When the Queen attends the funeral of her cousin Margaret Rhodes in Windsor today it will be a doubly poignant occasion. For Her Majesty was informed this weekend that another of her bridesmaids had died.
Lady Elizabeth Longman, a childhood playmate of the Queen and member of the Buckingham Palace Girl Guides troop, died on Thursday aged 92 after a short illness. It means that just two of the Queen’s eight bridesmaids are still alive ahead of her 70th wedding anniversary next year.
‘Her Majesty will be deeply saddened,’ a courtier tells me. ‘To lose two of her lifelong friends in succession is a terrible blow.’
Called Lady Elizabeth Lambart at the time of the Queen’s wedding, she was the daughter of the 10th Earl of Cavan, a World War I commander and friend of George V. Queen Mary was her godmother.
The two girls grew up together and were taken for outings such as to the Royal Tournament. They both learned to dance at Madame Vacani’s studio in London.
When the Queen married Prince Philip in 1947, Lady Elizabeth was one of only two non-royal attendants. Resolutely discreet, she never spoke publicly about her close relationship with the Royal Family.
She did, though, reveal that Philip had given the bridesmaids Art Deco silver compacts with a gold crown above the bride and groom’s entwined initials, and a row of five small sapphires. ‘He dealt them out like playing cards,’ she said.
When Lady Elizabeth married publisher Mark Longman two years later, the Queen, her mother and Princess Margaret were among the guests. Sadly HM will not be able to attend the funeral next week, at St John’s Church in Bishopstone, near Salisbury.
The eldest of Lady Elizabeth’s three daughters, Caroline Longman, is one of the Queen’s godchildren and was one of Prince Charles first girlfriends in the Seventies, when they were pictured at polo matches and out in his Aston Martin.
Caroline has spoken about how her mother used to drive her to meetings of the 1st Buckingham Palace Brownies.
‘There was one week when she couldn’t, so my nanny hailed a cab outside our house in Bayswater,’ Caroline recalled.
‘She said to the driver: “Buckingham Palace please”, and he replied: “Pull the other one — it’s got bells on.” A perfectly natural reaction, of course, but at the time I didn’t realise just how special I was.’
The Queen’s only two surviving bridesmaids are Lady Pamela Hicks, 87, daughter of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and Princess Alexandra, who turns 80 on Christmas Day.
Lady Elizabeth’s granddaughter is former model Rose Hanbury, who is married to the Marquess of Cholmondeley, Lord Great Chamberlain to the Queen and seen on state occasions such as the Opening of Parliament.
Lady Elizabeth enjoyed moving with the times and posed with supermodels including Kate Moss for a fashion shoot in 2012 at Houghton Hall, the Cholmondeleys’ ancestral home in Norfolk.
SOURCE: Daily Mail