It was the saddest of homecomings: Her Majesty the Queen bid a final farewell to Scotland when her coffin was flown from her beloved Scotland back to England. She will lie at rest overnight at Buckingham Palace before she lies in state at Westminster Hall for three days beginning tomorrow.
It was no small matter that her daughter Princess Anne was the senior royal accompanying the Queen on her final journey from Edinburgh to RAF Brize Norton. The Princess Royal was by her mother’s side when the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral and accompanied the royal hearse on Sunday when it left Balmoral for Edinburgh.
On Tuesday evening, the princess shared a statement expressing gratitude for the crowds that have greeted her along the way. “I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest Mother’s life,” it reads. “It has been an honor 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 also acknowledges the added burden of the new role her brother King Charles III has taken on. ”We may have been reminded how much of her presence and contribution to our national identity we took for granted. I am also grateful for the support and understanding offered to my dear brother Charles as he accepts the added responsibilities of The Monarch,” it reads. “To my mother, The Queen, thank you.”
On Monday, Princess Anne stood vigil alongside the King and her brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Edward at the Kings Vigil at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. The vigil is historically attended by male family members, and Anne did not stand vigil for her grandmother the Queen Mother in 2002. The significance of her role cannot be understated and according to sources close to the new King, Charles III intends for his sister to have a “significant role” in his slimmed-down monarchy.
When Vanity Fair sat down with the princess to mark her 70th birthday in 2020 the royal said she had no plans to retire. “I don’t think retirement is quite the same [for me],” she said. “Most people would say we’re very lucky not to be in that situation because you wouldn’t want to just stop. It is, to a large extent, the choice of the organizations you’re involved with and whether they feel you’re still relevant.”
And true to her word, the hard working princess still clocks up several hundred engagements every year, her tally only falling shy of Charles. Indeed she was in Scotland carrying out official engagements when her mother’s health rapidly declined.
In his new role as King, Charles has said he will have less time to dedicate to some of the causes and charities he has supported in the past and he will be looking to distribute some of the Queen’s 400 plus charities which he has inherited.
According to a source close to King Charles III: “He knows he has a loyal and faithful ally in the Princess Royal. She is committed to supporting the crown and devoting herself to the work of the monarchy. Charles absolutely plans to include her in his new streamlined monarchy.”
In her conversation with Vanity Fair, she cited her parents the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen as her inspiration. “It’s not just about, Can I get a tick in the box for doing this? No, it’s about serving,” she said. “It comes from an example from both my parents’ way of working and where they saw their role being. I mean, my father served. It was a more direct form of service, I suppose you could argue. And the queen’s has been a lifelong service in a slightly different way, but they both have that perspective of service which is about working with people.”