Queen Elizabeth II Achieved ‘Beloved Status’ After Losing 2 People Closest To Her, Royal Biographer Says

Queen Elizabeth II is an icon. She’s led the royal family for more than 65 years making her the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

People take to the streets of London to celebrate the queen’s birthday with the Trooping the Colour parade every June and mark milestones with jubilees.

Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace | Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images

The 94-year-old is popular. But a particularly tough year in her life endeared her to the public even more. 

Queen Elizabeth II lost her sister and her mother in 2002

2002 wasn’t a banner year for the queen. She suffered great losses on a personal level making the year especially difficult. First, she lost her younger sister, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. 

On Feb. 9, 2002, Margaret died at the age of 71. Her death was hard on the queen because she lost one of the few people who’d been with her through it all. 

“Margaret was the queen’s closest companion in many ways,” Christopher Warwick, a royal historian and biographer said during the CNN documentary The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty.

The queen and Margaret were close as children and that continued for their entire lives. Margaret was there when King George VI ascended the throne and again when it became the queen’s time to lead the royal family.

Of course, they had their disagreements over the years but they remained sisters and confidants. 

Still grieving the loss of Margaret, the royal family suffered another blow just seven weeks later. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother died on March 30, 2002, at the age of 101. 

Princess Margaret, Queen Mother, and Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Margaret, Queen Mother, and Queen Elizabeth II | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

“It was horrible for the queen,” Prudence, Lady Penn, a friend of the royal family’s and a former lady-in-waiting, said in the documentary. “The two closest women to her, two people she could really talk to, were gone.”

The public showed their support for Queen Elizabeth at the Queen Mother’s funeral. As the queen left Westminster Abbey people clapped as she passed by.

The events marked a ‘major shift’ for Queen Elizabeth II

Losing her sister and her mother just seven weeks apart endeared the public to Queen Elizabeth. 

“The Queen Mother had occupied this position of being the beloved grandmother,” Sally Bedell Smith, a royal biographer, said in the documentary. “This beloved status, at that moment, transferred to the Queen.” 

Two months after the Queen Mother’s funeral the royal family marked 50 years of the queen’s reign with her golden jubilee. A million people flooded the streets of London gathering outside Buckingham Palace to mark the occasion. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at the Golden Jubilee in 2002
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at the Golden Jubilee in 2002 | Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

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“It felt like a significant shift,” Richard Kay, journalist, said in the documentary. “And in fact, you can almost date the resurgence in the queen’s popularity from that summer in 2002.”

At that time, Princess Diana’s 1997 death was still fresh. Prince Charles was quietly dating Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. But the public felt for the queen following the major personal losses and her popularity increased. 

2002 marked a turning point for the monarchy. Although it was a bad year, the queen says 1992 was the worst year of her reign.