Prince Harry's 'biggest fan' Daphne Dunne dies at 99, days after receiving birthday card from the Sussexes

Dunne's daughter revealed that her mother had been suffering from a prolonged bout of pneumonia and that the royal couple had comforted her during her battle with the disease

                            Prince Harry's 'biggest fan' Daphne Dunne dies at 99, days after receiving birthday card from the Sussexes
Prince Harry meets Daphne Dunne (Source : Getty Images)

Daphne Dunne, the elderly Australian war widow who captured Prince Harry's heart during his royal visits to the country, has died at the age of 99, just days after she received a birthday card from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Dunne's daughter, Michelle Haywood, revealed on March 29 that her mother had been suffering from a prolonged bout of pneumonia and that the royals were able to make her mother's difficult times seem less painful.

The Daily Mail reported that Dunne died at the Sydney Adventist Hospital on April 1, which was three days after her birthday, with her daughter and one of her granddaughters by her side. Haywood said: "She fought as hard as she could but it just got too much. It's just so sad. You always want that little bit more."

The Duke of Sussex first met her when he saw a replica of the Victoria Cross pinned to her chest at the Sydney Opera House following the completion of a deployment with the Australian Defence Force in 2015. He had even inquired about it. "He asked me about the Victoria Cross," Dunne told Daily Mail back then. "He said he recognized that and wanted to know all about it." Dunne's first husband, Albert Chowne, was killed in the midst of a raid on the Japanese occupied Papua New Guinea on March 25, 1945. He had received the Victoria Cross for the bravery that he had shown.

Dunne and Harry met for the second time in 2017, in the rain, during the launch event for the Invictus Games and a third time when Harry introduced his wife Meghan to Dunne during their royal visit to Sydney last year. 

Dunne appeared on the Today Show on March 29 where reporters read out the royal's special birthday wishes to her.  The card read: "Dear Daphne, my wife and I send our warmest wishes to you on the occasion of your 99th birthday on Friday."

The note continued: "We hope you have a wonderful celebration surrounded by family and friends and that you've managed to escape hospital. Congratulations on reaching this important and impressive milestone before your centenary year next year. Happy Birthday, Daphne. Best wishes, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was one of the many big names who paid tribute to Dunne on social media and he said his thoughts were with her family and friends. The elderly war widow spent her birthday with her daughter, grandchildren Katie and Charlie, nieces Denise, Robyn and Lynette, and her beloved Pomeranian, Meeko.


Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex meets 98-year-old Daphne Dunne during a meet and greet at the Sydney Opera House on October 16, 2018, in Australia (Source: Paul Edwards - Pool/Getty Images)


Haywood said: "She had the most beautiful day, surrounded by so much love and color and flowers. Everyone that walked past her hospital room was just blown away. No one could believe it was a hospital room. The staff were amazing. They made mum's last few days beautiful."

Dunne's daughter also mentioned: "Meghan and Harry have gotten mum through this terrible illness she's had. She's still very unwell and I think the card they've sent means so much. I think it will be the thing that gets her through." 

A spokesman for the royal family said the Duke and Duchess were 'deeply saddened by the news' and will write to Daphne's relatives privately. The spokesman added: 'Their thoughts are with Daphne’s family and friends at this difficult time.' 

Prince Harry meets Daphne Dunne (wearing her husband's Victoria Cross) during a walkabout outside the Sydney Opera House on May 7, 2015, in Sydney, Australia (Source: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)