The Queen's final days at Balmoral: Watching her favorite weatherman, informal dinners and long siestas post lunch

Despite her mobility issues, the Queen was said to have shown exemplary fortitude and never lost her infectious enthusiasm while loved ones visited

The Queen's final days at Balmoral: Watching her favorite weatherman, informal dinners and long siestas post lunch
Queen Elizabeth II spent her last few days with enthusiasm and cheer at Balmoral Castle (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ADVERTISEMENT

ABERDEENSHIRE, SCOTLAND: Queen Elizabeth II had a significant announcement for the shooting party she had invited to spend a few days at Balmoral Castle four days before she passed away on September 8. The Queen stated that there will be no formal dinner that night. No piper, no black ties for the men nor long dresses for the ladies. 

ADVERTISEMENT

This was a major departure from tradition as the skirl of the bagpipes had long served as the essential music to every event at the Scottish Castle. Her Bowes-Lyons cousins, whom she had always been close to through the Queen Mother's family, were her guests. The comforting presence of the Queen was the one thing that hadn't changed as they all sat down in the castle dining room that evening. They claimed that she was in "good form" and "perky even." She was surrounded by loved ones, and it was obvious that this gave her courage.

ADVERTISEMENT

RELATED NEWS

David Beckham spotted crying near Queen’s coffin after waiting 12 hours in line to pay respects to late monarch

King Charles 'deeply moved' by affection shown for Queen as condolence messages pour in from across the globe

ADVERTISEMENT

She asked that many of the traditions of a Balmoral summer should continue, even though she could not join (Getty Images)
She asked that many of the traditions of a Balmoral summer should continue, even though she could not join (Getty Images)

Her physical decline had not made her last weeks easy. She was eating less and had difficulty standing and walking, particularly up and down the stairs. However, it was more than made up for by the happiness of being in her favorite place. She requested that many Balmoral summer customs be kept even though she could no longer participate as she once had, notably in the walks and picnics, and found it more difficult to do her daily crossword. However, there were other benefits as well, none more fascinating than the fact that she made it a point to monitor weather predictions on television.

ADVERTISEMENT

The reason? She had developed an unexpected affection for BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker. "It was like a bit of a crush; she always wanted to watch the forecasts when he was on. She was amused hearing the cadences when his name was read out but she loved watching him, too." an insider said, as per Daily Mail.

ADVERTISEMENT


 

Although the Queen may not have realized it, the 43-year-old Polish-British meteorologist has a sizable online fan base. He was chosen as Britain's favorite weatherman during lockdown, in part due to his long hair that he failed to trim. It is even more remarkable that she found comfort in her final days in the Highlands following the melancholy that overcame her immediately after arriving in Scotland this summer. The sadness being the death of her oldest dog Candy, a dachshund-corgi mix known as a dorgi. Candy's death took the wind out of the Queen's sails. 

ADVERTISEMENT

It was ironic because the dog's name was the same as that of Prince Philip's beloved yellow labrador. She was one of the Queen's four dorgis, along with Cider, Berry, and Vulcan, yet she lived longer than any of them. Even though Candy was extremely old in dog years, her death the Queen devastated. She made the exceedingly rare decision that she did not wish to have one of her most devout companions buried at Balmoral. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Queen Elizabeth II is joined by one of her dogs, a Dorgi called Candy, as she views a display of memorabilia from her Golden and Platinum Jubilees in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle on February 4, 2022 in Windsor, England. The Queen has since travelled to her Sandringham estate where she traditionally spends the anniversary of her accession to the throne - February 6 - a poignant day as it is the date her father King George VI died in 1952.
Queen Elizabeth II is joined by one of her dogs, a Dorgi called Candy, as she views a display of memorabilia from her Golden and Platinum Jubilees in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle on February 4, 2022 in Windsor, England (Photo by Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Her dogs' ultimate resting sites may be Windsor, Sandringham, and Balmoral because it has been an unspoken rule for the most of her life that they are buried in the areas where they died. Usually, the Queen personally supervises the burial, together with her top gardener. Later, a headstone is erected with the dog's name, birth and death dates, and an fitting epitaph. However, once Candy died, she made arrangements to have the her beloved companion's remains flown to London and then transported to Windsor so they could be buried with another of her pets, Vulcan, who died in 2020.

ADVERTISEMENT

Her choice was so surprising that her close domestic staff saw it as a hint that she had every intention of returning to Windsor at the conclusion of the trip to oversee the headstone placement personally. She still had Sandy and Muick, two more canines that Prince Andrew and his daughters had gifted her in 2021. There had been some other positive indicators too. She requested to be escorted to the mews at Windsor Castle, where her stud groom Terry Pendry had remained to care for the horses even though she was no longer riding them, just before she left for Scotland.

ADVERTISEMENT

She just wanted to view them, yet she complied when asked to ride a pony. A groom advised leading the horse around the indoor riding school after helping her get onto the saddle. The Queen rode four circuits, and it appears to have been the first time since she first learned to ride that she had been on a leading rein.

King George VI, Princess Margaret, Lady Mary Cambridge, Elizabeth, Philip, Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Mother) and Queen Mary.
King George VI, Princess Margaret, Lady Mary Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth II, Philip, Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Mother) and Queen Mary (Getty Images)

ADVERTISEMENT

She requested a sun lounger be set up for her in Windsor's garden during the summer heat wave. She slept more regularly in Balmoral, where it was cooler, frequently retiring for a siesta after lunch.

She was weak yet aware and conversational almost to the the end. She had lunch with the Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, on both Saturday and Sunday. Her "good spirits" and "engaging" company were mentioned by him. The Queen was "absolutely on the ball," according to Dr Greenshields, who spoke at the parish church in Braemar and Crathie where she formerly attended.

ADVERTISEMENT

"She was talking about her past, her love for Balmoral, her father, her mother, Prince Philip, horses, very much engaged with what was happening in the church and what was happening in the nation, too, he said, describing how she took him to the window and she was "looking over her gardens with great pride and affection."

Queen Elizabeth greets newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss as she arrives at Balmoral Castle for an audience where she will be invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government on September 6, 2022 in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Queen broke with the tradition of meeting the new prime minister and Buckingham Palace, after needing to remain at Balmoral Castle due to mobility issues.
Queen Elizabeth greets newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss as she arrives at Balmoral Castle for an audience where she will be invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government on September 6, 2022 in Aberdeen, Scotland (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

ADVERTISEMENT

He added, "Her health was frail, we knew that, but when I left her on Sunday she was very positive, and I'm just finding it very hard to believe that in those few days things had changed so much."

Her infectious excitement was still present two days before she passed away. She discussed the potential of her filly Love Affairs, who would later become her last victory in her tenure as a racehorse owner, with her trainer Clive Cox over the phone on Tuesday. Cox said, "We talked about the filly, how the race might pan out, how another horse of hers was doing in my stable and about a couple of other things. She was as sharp as a tack."

ADVERTISEMENT

Her closest aides were the ones who had seen her extraordinary fortitude more than anybody else. And her crew was committed to making this summer comfortable if it turned out to be her last one.

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, circa 1952. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, circa 1952. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

ADVERTISEMENT

This tiny group of domestic staffers has been alternating every two weeks since the Covid epidemic, when the Queen relocated permanently to Windsor Castle. Changeover occurred during the week the Queen passed away, so her senior page Paul Whybrew and her footman Ian Robinson, whose duties included walking the dogs, returned to her side the day after she met with outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and new Prime Minister Liz Truss.

ADVERTISEMENT

There were other recognizable figures, like Susan Rhodes, her lady-in-waiting, and Angela Kelly, the daughter of a Liverpool docker who had progressed from dresser to personal assistant and curator. Rhodes, who started working for the Queen in 2017, is wed to Simon, whose mother Margaret was the Queen's first cousin as well as a childhood friend. However, when it came to her final desires, Whybrew, her longest-serving assistant, who had been by her side for 44 years of her 70-year reign, came first.

ADVERTISEMENT

She was not alone, even though she spent the majority of her final weeks in her Balmoral accommodations. Members of the Royal Family had visited frequently during the course of the summer, not to bid farewell but rather to reminisce.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Balmoral, 1972 (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Balmoral in 1972 (Getty Images)

ADVERTISEMENT

They included Lady Sarah Chatto, the Queen's niece, with whom she had a particularly close relationship, as well as Prince Edward and his wife Sophie (who have taken up their late father's BBQ responsibilities), Prince William, and Kate. Even on Tuesday, there was no immediate cause for concern over the Queen's health, despite the fact that she was obviously exhausted from the effort of hosting not one, but two Prime Ministers. It is believed that she had routine medical care while she was staying at Balmoral, and a doctor and nursing staff were always on hand. Even while it wasn't fully predicted, her condition's rapid turnaround on Wednesday, September 7, nonetheless caught everyone off guard. The palace servants started warning the Royal Family as her condition got worse and fears set in.

ADVERTISEMENT

British statesman Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) speaks at the opening of the International Youth Centre at Chigwell, Essex, in the presence of Princess Elizabeth, who performed the opening ceremony, 12th July 1951. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
British statesman Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) speaks at the opening of the International Youth Centre at Chigwell, Essex, in the presence of Princess Elizabeth, who performed the opening ceremony, July 12 1951 (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Only Princess Anne and then Prince Charles were in Scotland, and they were throwing a supper at Dumfries House, the Palladian palace he reserved for the country, with Camilla. Both of them were present when their mother passed away. It is unknown how the Queen spent her dying hours or whether she got last rites like her mother. Despite being unable to travel to church over the summer to participate in divine worship, priests had prayed with the Queen at the palace. She had been sustained by her Christianity for so long that it is obvious that she would have appreciated some final spiritual direction.

ADVERTISEMENT

Her last few weeks in her beloved Highlands couldn't have been more well planned if she had lived a life guided by exacting protocol.

Share this article: The Queen's final days at Balmoral: Watching her favorite weatherman, informal dinners and long siestas post lunch