Princess Anne was by her mother Queen Elizabeth's side in her final moments
Princess Anne stayed true to her no-nonsense attitude even in a tragic moment.
The Princess Royal, 73, was by her mother Queen Elizabeth's side in the final hours before her death in Sept. 2022. New details of the history-making monarch's death are revealed in royal biographer Robert Hardman’s book, The Making of a King: King Charles III and the Modern Monarchy (out Jan. 18), serialized in the Daily Mail, including Princess Anne's reaction to being hugged by a senior staff member.
As Princess Anne waited outside Balmoral Castle to greet her brother, the new King Charles, in the moments after their mother's death, a staffer offered her a brief hug after noticing that Anne appeared visibly distressed.
"There then followed a wry smile. ‘That is the last time that’s going to happen,' the Princess said firmly," Hardman writes.
While other members of the family were in England, Princess Anne was in Scotland when Queen Elizabeth's health turned for the worst. She and Angela Kelly, the Queen's senior dresser and trusted confidante, took turns by her bedside. The Rev Kenneth MacKenzie, a seasoned minister at the nearby Crathie Kirk, joined them, reading passages to the Queen from her Bible.
Charles and his wife Camilla (now Queen Camilla) also spent an hour with the Queen privately at her bedside in the hours before she died, according to the book. They then retreated to Charles' nearby home on the Balmoral estate before receiving a call from Anne to hurry back to the castle as the Queen's death was drawing near.
Hardman shared a memo of the monarch's final moments from her private secretary, Sir Edward Young, who was at Balmoral when the Queen died.
"Very peaceful. In her sleep. Slipped away. Old age. She wouldn't have been aware of anything. No pain," Young noted in the previously unseen memo that's now part of the Royal Archives, according to Daily Mail.
The outlet also revealed that while there were concerns for the Queen's well-being at the time, her death occurred with such abruptness that King Charles (then Prince Charles) found himself hastily boarding a helicopter for an eleventh-hour journey to Balmoral.
On the evening before her death, Anne and Charles' private secretary, Sir Clive Alderton, advised him to be on standby. "They were both saying to him: 'Think how you would feel if you never said goodbye,' " said a member of staff, according to the excerpt.
At the same time, the Queen seemed stable. According to one of those involved, the consensus was "a day or two, not an hour or two."
In the recent documentary Charles III: The Coronation Year, Princess Anne recounted how the Queen worried that it would be more complicated if she died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the royals spent their summer breaks.
“I think there was a moment when she felt it would be more difficult if she died at Balmoral. I think we did try to persuade her that that shouldn’t be part of the decision-making process,” Anne said, according to The Daily Telegraph. “So I hope she felt that was right in the end because we did."
Because Queen Elizabeth died in Scotland, her body was brought to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh before traveling by plane to London, which Princess Anne joined.
In a statement released by Buckingham Palace in the days following Queen Elizabeth's death, Princess Anne said, "I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest Mother's life. It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys."
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