Queen Elizabeth’s Maid of Honor Died One Day Before the Monarch’s State Funeral

At her royal coronation, a group of women surrounded Queen Elizabeth II. These ladies would play an essential role in the event during which the crowning and anointing of Princess Elizabeth took place. One of those ladies died one day before the queen of the United Kingdom’s funeral. Who was this woman, and why was she so important to Queen Elizabeth?

Queen Elizabeth and her maids of honor at her coronation ceremony in 1954.
Queen Elizabeth and her maids of honor at her coronation ceremony in 1953 | The Print Collector/Getty Images

What is the role of a maid of honor at a royal coronation?

Six young women were chosen to accompany the 27-year-old Princess Elizabeth as she was crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. They were there to support Elizabeth during her coronation and tend to her train throughout the ceremony.

Tattler reported the following women were chosen for the coveted roles. These ladies included Rosemary Muir, Jane Rayne Lacey, Moyra Campbell, Mary Russell, Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, and Lady Glenconner.

In 2013, five of the six women spoke to Sue MacGregor on Radio 4’s The Reunion. “Very confident, really,” said Lady Rosemary of Queen Elizabeth II’s demeanor during the event. “She made us feel very confident too. The minute she arrived, everyone felt everything was going to be alright.”

Lady Mary shared her excitement regarding the day. However, her biggest concern was tripping, fainting, or dropping the queen’s train. Ironically, all six women had a vial of smelling salts hidden in their gloves in case they needed it during the three-hour ceremony.

All six women had never met Queen Elizabeth II before being chosen as maids of honor. Still, according to The Daily Mail, the monarch kept in touch with them after the coronation.

One of the queen’s maids of honor died the day before the monarch’s Westminster Abbey state funeral

Lady Mary Russell was one of the maids of honor at Queen Elizabeth's coronation.
Lady Mary Russell | Apic/Getty Images

Lady Mary Russell died on September 18 at the age of 88. She was one of Queen Elizabeth’s six maids of honor. Lady Mary’s father, the Earl of Haddington, was a childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth’s mother, thus allowing her to receive great recognition.

The Times published an obituary for Russell, which revealed the following details. She married a man named David, was a mother to three sons and two daughters and was a grandmother to 12 grandchildren. The obituary read she died “peacefully” at home with her family.

Queen Elizabeth’s funeral and burial were held the day after her friend’s death, on September 19, at Westminster Abbey in London.

The Daily Mail quoted Russell about that memorable day in her young life. She said, “Of all the girls our age in the country, we six girls were chosen to carry the Queen’s train, and that meant a great deal. It was overwhelming and moving, especially during the anointing. It was an incredible moment, but all I could think about was how heavy the embroidery felt.”

How old was Queen Elizabeth at her coronation?

Related

Queen Elizabeth Overturned Camilla Parker Bowles’ Official Royal Title

Queen Elizabeth was just 25 years old when she began a remarkable 70-year reign as the queen of the United Kingdom. She married Prince Philip in 1947, and they were married five years before she assumed a role that would ultimately change her life.

At the time of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth was a mother of two young children: Charles, born in 1948, and Anne, welcomed in 1950. Later in her reign, Andrew and Edward were born in 1960 and 1964, respectively.

On coronation eve, the queen made a radio broadcast to the Commonwealth in which she pledged her devotion to her new role.

She said, “Throughout all my life and with all my heart, I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.” Queen Elizabeth II kept that vow for 70 years until her September 8, 2022, death.