SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

State & Ceremonial

Will there ever be another Mistress of the Robes?

On December 3 2021, Fortune FitzRoy, the Dowager Duchess of Grafton, died at the age of 101.

For more than half a century, the Duchess was Mistress of the Robes – the most senior lady in the Royal Household.

The honorary position dates back to 1553 when Susan Clarencieux was appointed Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary I.

However, following the death of the Dowager Duchess of Grafton, the position has remained vacant.

Queen Elizabeth II only had two Mistresses during the entirety of her reign.

Mary Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, filled the position from 1953 until her retirement in 1967, when the Dowager Duchess of Grafton took over until her death in 2021.

Queen Elizabeth did not elevate any of her existing Ladies to the senior role, and Queen Camilla has not appointed her own Mistress of the Robes.

In November, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Camilla would not appoint any ladies-in-waiting, instead choosing to make six of her close friends Queen’s Companions.

The newly created role replaced that of a Lady-in-Waiting meaning it is likely that the centuries old position has been lost to the history books.

The same is true for the Mistress of the Robes, a now redundant position considering the role included organising the rota for the ladies-in-waiting.

Historically, the Mistress of the Robes would arrange The Queen’s clothing and jewellery or the role would be called First Lady of the Bedchamber. In modern times, the Mistress of the Robes has always been a duchess.