Fresh heartache for The Queen as her close friend and confidante the Duchess of Grafton dies months after Prince Philip

Fresh heartache for The Queen as her close friend and confidante the Duchess of Grafton dies months after Prince Philip

THE Queen is in mourning after one of her closest confidantes and friends died on Friday – mere months following Prince Philip's death.

Ann Fortune FitzRoy, the Duchess of Grafton, passed away aged 101.

Fresh heartache for The Queen as her close friend and confidante the Duchess of Grafton dies months after Prince Philip

Ann Fortune FitzRoy was one of the Queen's closest confidantes Credit: Getty

Fresh heartache for The Queen as her close friend and confidante the Duchess of Grafton dies months after Prince Philip

Fortune attended all the important Royal Family engagements Credit: Getty

Her death is another blow for the Queen and comes less than a year since Her Majesty's husband Prince Phillip, who she called her “strength and guide” died aged 99 in April and her grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left for the US.

Fortune served the Royal Household for the monarch’s entire 69-year reign and made her Majesty the godmother to her second daughter, Lady Virginia FitzRoy, in 1954.

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

Few people have had such long-standing and close relations with the Queen.

She was one of only two Mistress of the Robes during the Queen’s reign – formerly a role wielding responsibility for the monarch’s clothes and jewellery.

Now mostly a honorary title, the Mistress of the Robes also has a more invisible role of being a source of friendship and advice for the Queen.

The Duchess was known for executing her duties faultlessly and never spoke about her responsibilities with the Royal Family in depth.

She attended all of the most important royal events, such as state visits and the State Opening of Parliament while also being in charge of the rota of ladies-in-waiting.

She accompanied the Queen during her trip to Nigeria in 1956 and trips to Paris in 1972 and Russia in 1994.

In 1980, during a visit to Morocco, the Duchess was ordered to leave then-ruler King Hassan's compound despite having been invited to stay.

Born in 1920 as Anne Fortune Smith, she married the 11th Duke of Grafton Hugh FitzRoy in 1946 and they had five children before his death in April 2011.

Fortune took on the title of Duchess of Grafton after the death of his father.

The duchess joined the Royal Household on the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953 as Lady of the Bedchamber for the Queen.

She became Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the New Year’s Honours list 1965 and was one of her Majesty’s closest friends.

Fortune was one of four children and was a descendent of Oswald Smith, of Blendon Hall, Kent, making her a second cousin twice removed of the Queen Mother, whose grandmother was Smith's daughter.

She grew up with her three brothers John, Jeremy and Mark in a large country house in Ashfold, Sussex.

Fresh heartache for The Queen as her close friend and confidante the Duchess of Grafton dies months after Prince Philip

The Ducess of Grafton with Lady Diana Spencer Credit: Alamy

Fresh heartache for The Queen as her close friend and confidante the Duchess of Grafton dies months after Prince Philip

The Duchess' passing comes less than a year since the death of her husband Prince Phillip Credit: PA

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