Queen’s heartache as close friend and royal aide Ann Fortune FitzRoy dies aged 101

The Queen's longtime friend and close royal confidant Ann Fortune FitzRoy, the Duchess of Grafton, has died aged 101.

News of Fortune's passing on Friday comes less than a year after Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died in April at the age of 99.

Fortune was a colossal presence in the Queen's life as she served the Royal household for the entirety of the Monarch's 69-year reign.

In 1980, the Duchess was even appointed the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order – an award which was made personally by the Queen for services to the sovereign.

The pair's bond was so strong that she made the Queen godmother to her second daughter, Lady Virginia FitzRoy, in 1954.

Taking on the role which held responsibility for the Queen's clothes and jewellery, Fortune was one of the only two Mistress of the Robes to serve so far during her reign.

Fortune was also praised for advising the Queen when it came to royal engagements and duties, as well as accompanying her to royal events and state visits.

She was by the Queen's side during her trips to Nigeria in 1956, Paris in 1972 and Russia in 1994.

Back in 1980, drama unfolded as the Duchess was ordered to leave then-ruler King Hassan's compound despite an invite to stay during their trip to Morocco.

Born in 1920, the Duchess was raised in a country house in Ashfold, Sussex, before marrying the 11th Duke of Grafton Hugh FitzRoy in 1946.

The pair went on to have five children before the Duke's passing in 2011.

Fortune joined the royal household as Lady of the Bedchamber for the Queen during her coronation in 1953.

More than a decade later, she became Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the New Year's Honours list in 1965

This is fresh heartache for the Queen who lost her husband, Prince Philip, earlier this year.

This year will mark the Queen's first Christmas without her "life and soul" Philip.

The royals are expected to gather at Sandringham in Norfolk as usual for Christmas, where the Queen will host her family, explains royal expert Duncan Lancombe.

"Philip was always at the heart of Christmas at Sandringham and his absence is going to be keenly missed," he told OK!.

For the Queen, the Christmas break is an opportunity to take a well-earned break from one of the most challenging years of her 69-year reign, her first as a widow.

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