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Queen Elizabeth’s Lady-in-Waiting Diana, Lady Farnham Dies at 90

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Another loss. Diana Maxwell, Lady Farnham, died on December 29 at age 90, ending her 34-year run as Queen Elizabeth II‘s lady-in-waiting.

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Farnham, born Diana Marion Gunnis and called Marion by her loved ones, started her role as lady of the bedchamber in 1987. In recognition of her service, the queen, now 95, appointed her Commander, Royal Victorian Order (CVO) after more than a decade working for the monarch in 1998. She was appointed Dame Commander, Royal Victorian Order in 2010. Her Majesty made the honor specifically for services to the royal family.

The late friend of the queen accompanied the sovereign to many events, even stepping in to accompany her to the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 when Prince Philip was in the hospital for a bladder infection, per The Times.

Farnham was predeceased by her husband, Barry Maxwell, who died in 2001. They are survived by daughters, Harriet, 57, and Sophia, 54, as well as four grandchildren: Araminta, 28, Henry, 26, Elsa, 15, and Celia, 13.

The noblewoman is one of several ladies-in-waiting, all of whom are chosen by Queen Elizabeth herself. Unfortunately, she was the second of the group to die in December.

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Fortune FitzRoy, Duchess of Grafton, died on December 3 at age 101. The mistress of the robes, born Ann Fortune Smith, started serving Queen Elizabeth in 1953 as lady of the bedchamber before being promoted in 1967.

She never gave any interviews, though royal experts believe she was one of the queen’s closest friends. The monarch visited her shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced England into lockdown and delivered a birthday card to Fortune for her 100th birthday in February 2020, London’s The Times reports.

The December deaths added to an already depressing year for the queen. In April, her husband Prince Philip died at age 99. The two were married for 73 years.

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“Christmas was a bit of a struggle for the queen without Prince Philip by her side,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly after the holiday. “And not being able to spend it with her whole family [didn’t help].”

Though COVID-19 prevented her from having her usual big celebration, the insider added, “She’s not one to wallow in self-pity and kept her chin up.”

Her Majesty relies on her ladies-in-waiting during difficult times. Though the queen sat alone at the April memorial service, Lady Susan Hussey, a senior lady-in-waiting, accompanied the monarch on the car ride from Windsor Castle to Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel. The 81-year-old noblewoman is fondly called the “No. 1 Head Girl” since she has been at Elizabeth’s side for more than 70 years.

Elizabeth has several other ladies-in-waiting, including Susan Richenda Elton, Lady Elton, Virginia Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie, and the Honorable Mary Anne Morrison.

Nicola Biondo

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