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Queen Elizabeth II

The poignant losses that marked Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee year

Queen Elizabeth II

The historic reign of Elizabeth II, which lasted seventy years, saw many significant times. Among the most poignant were those in 2002 when Queen Elizabeth II said goodbye to her sister and her mother within a matter of weeks and saw the very fabric of her Royal Family alter forever.

As 2002 began, Queen Elizabeth II was looking ahead to her Golden Jubilee. On February 6th, she marked the 50th anniversary of her accession but her thoughts were elsewhere. The health of Princess Margaret had been giving cause for concern for some time. At 6.30am on February 9th 2002, Queen Elizabeth II’s only sister died at the King Edward VII Hospital in London where she had been taken hours earlier after developing heart problems following a stroke on February 8th 2002.

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Her funeral was held at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor on February 15th 2002. Deep concern was shown for Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother who, at the age of 101, had lost her younger daughter. The Queen Mother’s health was also fragile but she was determined to say farewell to Margaret and arrived at the Chapel by helicopter.

Following this sad day, Queen Elizabeth II mourned privately before heading off on a Jubilee tour of part of the Commonwealth. On her return, she found her mother’s health continued to raise worries. On March 30th 2002, at 3.15pm, The Queen Mother died peacefully in her sleep as Elizabeth II held her hand.

The Queen Mother’s coffin lay in state at Westminster Hall where around 200,000 people walked past to pay their respects. As the vigil came to an end, just before her funeral, her four grandsons took up watch at each corner in a final act of tribute.

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Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother’s funeral took place on April 9th 2002 at Westminster Abbey. She was later laid to rest in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, alongside her husband, King George VI, and the ashes of their daughter, Margaret.

Queen Elizabeth II continued with her Jubilee visits. The sadness of her loss was underlined when she stepped out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during her Jubilee celebrations. It was the first major moment in her reign where she hadn’t had her mother and sister at her side.

Lydia Starbuck is a pen name of June Woolerton who has written extensively on royal history. Her book, A History of Royal Jubilees, is available now. She is also the author of a popular cosy mystery, All Manner of Murder.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.