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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Queen Elizabeth II Was Concerned About Dying In Scotland: Daughter


Queen Elizabeth II was persuaded to step back from making decisions about her own funeral after mentioning that it would be "more difficult" if she died in Scotland, her daughter told a forthcoming documentary.

The UK's longest-serving monarch, who reigned for 70 years, died at the age of 96 at her remote Scottish Highland retreat at Balmoral on September 8, 2022.

In a new documentary to be broadcast on December 26, Princess Anne recounts how her mother was mindful of causing added issues for those arranging her funeral if she died at the estate.

"I think there was a moment when she felt that it would be more difficult if she died at Balmoral," Anne says in the programme, according to extracts released in advance.

"And I think we did try and persuade her that that shouldn't be part of the decision-making process. So I hope she felt that was right in the end, because I think we did."

The queen spoke openly of her love for the 50,000-acre (20,000-hectare) estate, spending up to two months there during the summer, usually with her husband Philip and her family.

While at the estate, bought for Queen Victoria by her husband Prince Albert in 1852, the monarch would ride her ponies and walk her pet corgis in the surrounding hills or along the River Dee.

Multiple plans were in place if the queen died at any one of her main royal residences, from Sandringham in eastern England, to Windsor Castle, west of London, and even overseas.

The arrangements for Scotland were given the codename "Operation Unicorn", after Scotland's national animal.

Anne accompanied her mother's coffin as it travelled by road through Scotland to Edinburgh, then on by plane to London to lie in state.

She said at the time it had been "an honour and privilege to do so".

- Relief -

Anne, 73, said in the documentary it was "serendipity" she was at Balmoral before her mother's death which followed a year of declining health.

She said she also felt a sense of relief when the Imperial State Crown was removed from her coffin at her funeral, symbolising the formal end of her reign.

"I rather weirdly felt a sense of relief, somehow that's it, finished," she said. "That responsibility being moved on."

Anne also discussed her 75-year-old brother King Charles's ascension to the throne and praised the "outstanding" role his wife Queen Camilla has played in her role as consort.

"Her understanding of her role and how much difference it makes to the King has been absolutely outstanding, and this role is not something she would have been a natural for, but she does it really well," Anne says.

"And she provides that change of speed and tone, she's equally modern."

The documentary also features candid moments in the build up to the coronation in May, with filmed rehearsals showing Charles joking with his son and heir Prince William, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who took the service.

"I'm not sure that anybody can really prepare themselves for that kind of change," says Anne.

"Monarchy is a 365 days a year occupation, it doesn't stop because you change monarchs, for whatever reason.

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