The Daily Telegraph
‘Privilege’ for Princess Royal to accompany final journeys
THE Princess Royal said it had been “an honour and a privilege” to accompany her mother on her final journeys.
Princess Anne, 72, travelled with the Queen’s coffin as it slowly wound its way from Balmoral to Edinburgh, later following it on foot from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral and then, last night, flying back with her mother to London.
In a statement released last night, the Princess also reflected on the Queen’s final moments, saying: “I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest mother’s life.” She expressed gratitude for the “support and understanding” shown to her brother, the King, as he takes on the burden of the Crown.
The late sovereign’s only daughter is said to have enjoyed a close relationship with the Queen, with whom she shared a great love of horses and a pragmatic approach to life.
She was at Balmoral when her mother died last week, as she had been carrying out various engagements in Scotland. It is thought that of the closest family members, only she and the King managed to be at the 96-year-old monarch’s bedside in her final hours.
Princess Anne has appeared emotional but stoic as she has accompanied her mother’s body across Scotland and back to London. At times, she has appeared utterly grief-stricken, but she has kept her emotions in check and continued to carry out this most poignant final act of filial duty.
On Sunday, the Princess joined the cortège as the late Queen’s coffin made its way out of her beloved Balmoral Castle for the final time.
‘We may have been reminded how much of her contribution to our national identity we took for granted’
She followed in convoy as it made slow progress through the villages of Royal Deeside, allowing thousands to line the route and bid the monarch a final goodbye.
Many stood in respectful silence, others politely clapped, while some threw flowers into the path of the hearse.
The Princess Royal said that the love and respect shown by so many during the journey had been “both humbling and uplifting”.
One of the most enduring images of recent days showed her dropping into a deep curtsy as the coffin, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, was carried into the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
She would later walk shoulder to shoulder with her three brothers as they followed the coffin along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to St Giles’ Cathedral.
On Monday evening, she joined the King, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex as they stood in silent vigil alongside the coffin. The first woman to take part in such a vigil, she fixed her eyes on the floor, lost in thought.
Last night, the Princess, accompanied by her husband, Vice-admiral Timothy Laurence, emerged from the RAF jet before her mother’s coffin, ready to formally welcome her home.
She stood on the tarmac under darkening skies, watching intently as it was carried from the aircraft and on to English soil before being placed carefully in the state hearse for her poignant return to Buckingham Palace.
Again, as her mother’s body was driven past her, she dropped into a curtsy, briefly bowing her head.
The Princess’s statement, in full, released at 7pm last night, 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.
“Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting.
“We will all share unique memories. I offer my thanks to each and every one who share our sense of loss.”
The statement continued: “We may have been reminded how much of her presence and contribution to our national identity we took for granted.
“I am also so grateful for the support and understanding offered to my dear brother, Charles, as he accepts the added responsibilities of the Monarch.
“To my mother, The Queen, thank you.”