Tuesday, 4 Oct 2022

Queen spent final days with ‘favourite’ courtier ‘Tall Paul’

Watch Live: The State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

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Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully on September 8 at Balmoral Castle — the Royal Family’s Scottish residence. The 50,000-acre estate was known to be one of the late monarch’s favourite homes, holding special meaning from her childhood, relationship with Prince Philip and her family, who would spend long periods of the summer at the Castle. Her Majesty was coming to the end of this year’s annual stay when her health began to deteriorate; her eldest son King Charles III and only daughter Princess Anne were by her side at the time of her death. 

Also at Balmoral were the Queen’s trusted aides, who arguably spent the most time with the monarch in her final years following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. 

According to Victoria Ward, The Telegraph’s royal correspondent, the Queen’s closest aides would help “with jigsaw puzzles, delivering her beloved Racing Post and simply keeping her company as she watched television.”

They “had become indispensable, keeping her spirits up and her mind sharp.”

These loyal members of the royal household were present for the Queen’s final journeys, leading her to Westminster Abbey, where her funeral was held on Monday. They said their goodbyes as the Queen left Balmoral for the last time and led the way as the coffin was taken in procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. 

Paul Whybrew, page of the backstairs (a senior role that oversees the male staff), and Barry Mitford, the late Queen’s Serjeant-at-Arms, were among ten members of staff who took part in the solemn procession to Westminster Hall, where the monarch laid in state for over four days. 

Mr Whybrew, who at 6ft 4in tall towered over the 5ft 3in Queen, was described as the monarch’s favourite courtier.   

‘Tall Paul’ — as he was known within the household — worked for the monarch for more than 40 years. 

Perhaps most notably was an incident in 1982, when he wrestled intruder Michael Fagan to the ground after he broke into the Queen’s bedroom at Buckingham Palace. 

Mr Whybrew is said to have offered the intruder a whiskey before he was escorted out of the royal residence. 

He may also be recognised as the aide who stood by the side of the monarch during her skit for the 2012 Olympic Games with James Bond actor Daniel Craig. 

Both he and Mr Mitford, who was appointed Serjeant-at-Arms to the Queen in 2018, are understood to have been with the monarch at Balmoral throughout the summer and during her final days. 

They were among 10 members of royal staff who walked together in the procession on Wednesday. Leading the ceremonial cortege, the courtiers performed one last duty for “the boss”, guiding her in death as they had in life.  

This also included Sir Edward Young, who acted as the monarch’s private secretary from 2017, and Master of the Horse, Lord de Mauley, a close friend of the Queen’s. Accompanying them was Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Johnstone-Burt, former Master of the Household, who held the position from 2013 and whose department handles official and private entertaining across all the Royal residences. His team includes everyone from specialist craftspeople and caterers to florists and upholsterers. 

The group was led by Sir Tony, Tim Knox, director of the Royal Collection, and Lt Col Michael Vernon, Comptroller, Lord Chamberlain’s Office. Following were Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, and Sir Edward. Then came Lord de Mauley and the Earl of Dalhousie, Lord Steward of the Royal Household and one of the Queen’s most senior ceremonial officials. Finally, bringing up the rear were Mr Whybrew, Mr Mitford and a palace steward.

The passing of Queen Elizabeth reportedly devastated her loyal staff, many of whom have been serving the Royal Family for several decades. 

Following the Palace’s confirmation that the monarch had died, a royal insider told PEOPLE that her personal courtiers were “devastated”. They continued: “They are incandescent with grief.

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“However much you are prepared for it, after a lifetime of service, it was still a terrible shock.”

Following the monarch’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey, a smaller committal service will be held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. This will give the members of her royal household an opportunity to pay their respects.

The Queen’s coffin will be taken in procession from the Abbey to the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park, where it will be loaded into the State Hearse and driven an hour west to Windsor Castle.

At around 4pm, King Charles, Queen Camilla and the rest of the Royal Family will fill the pews of St George’s. While a congregation of 800 is expected to attend, it will have a more intimate feel than the state funeral. 

The guests at the Abbey, which includes world leaders, foreign diplomats and politicians, will not follow for the ceremony at Windsor. 

The Committal will feature a range of royal traditions that symbolise the end of a monarch’s reign. The Imperial State Crown, which has sat on top of the coffin since it left Balmoral, the orb and the sceptre will be lifted from the coffin by the Crown Jeweller, separating the Queen from her crown for the final time. 

At the end of the last hymn, King Charles will step forward and place the Grenadier Guards’ Queen’s Company Camp Colour – a smaller version of the Royal Standard of the Regiment – on the coffin.

As the service draws to a close, the Sovereign’s personal Piper will play a lament from the doorway between the Chapel and the Dean’s Cloister and walk slowly away so the music gradually fades.

The Royal Family will then retire to Windsor Castle for a quiet reception; they will later congregate for a private burial. 

Elizabeth will be interred in St George’s, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, where her father, mother and sister were laid to rest.

Prince Philip, who is currently in the Royal Vault, will then be moved to be alongside his wife.

It marks the final event to mourn the loss of Queen Elizabeth and the end of the national period of mourning. 

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