Why the Queen chose loyal lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey for her loneliest journey

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Hannah Furness
·3 min read
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The Queen with lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey (far right) during a 2005 walkabout at Sandringham House in Norfolk - Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
The Queen with lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey (far right) during a 2005 walkabout at Sandringham House in Norfolk - Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

It was her loneliest journey – but she was not alone. In her darkest day on public duty, the Queen had her loyal lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, by her side.

The monarch and Lady Susan, carried in the State Bentley for the short journey from the Sovereign's Entrance of Windsor Castle to the Galilee Porch of St George's Chapel, travelled in companionable silence.

In quiet contemplation, the two women faced the cameras and the watching world with dignified calm.

The Queen had personally asked Lady Susan to join her for the journey as she prepared to say farewell to her husband of 73 years.

One of a close inner circle of ladies-in-waiting, Lady Susan has been by the Queen's side since the birth of Prince Andrew, when she joined the royal household to help answer a flood of letters.

Known affectionately as "Number One Head Girl" in an office once likened to the cheery atmosphere of a girls' school common room, she has been described as one of the key trusted figures helping the Queen in her later life.

The Queen arrives for the funeral of Prince Philip at Windsor Castle - Leon Neal/AFP
The Queen arrives for the funeral of Prince Philip at Windsor Castle - Leon Neal/AFP

She is among a handful of confidantes with whom the Queen can now share half a lifetime of memories, knowing the Duke of Edinburgh behind closed doors as few others did.

A Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, the 81-year-old is the youngest daughter of the 12th Earl of Waldegrave, the widow of Marmaduke Hussey, the former chairman of the BBC and sister of the former Tory Cabinet minister, William Waldegrave.

Close to the Prince of Wales and a godmother to the Duke of Cambridge, her steady influence has been felt across the generations of the Royal Family.

Her peerless knowledge of the workings of the palace has seen her show newcomers to Royal life – including the then Lady Diana Spencer and the Duchess of Sussex – the ropes. She is said to have recommended Tiggy Legge-Bourke, the beloved nanny of Princes William and Harry, for the job.

While her presence is often unremarked upon, she can be seen in photographs from all aspects of Royal life, from accompanying Pippa Middleton to church at Sandringham in 2017 to being the friendly face greeting incoming and outgoing Prime Ministers during their nerve-wracking trip to the palace.

In 2012, her presence on the rain-soaked Royal barge for the Jubilee river pageant was noted as she placed a pashmina over the Queen's shoulders to protect her from the elements.

In common with other ladies-in-waiting, she is not paid for the role and continues to serve out of personal loyalty to the Queen. Part of the Royal household since 1960, she is a regular in the Court Circular, often representing the Queen at funerals and events when the monarch has obligations elsewhere.

When the Queen was still travelling the globe in her role as Head of State, Lady Susan was by her side.

At home, she has been present in the background at countless Royal engagements, accepting flowers and gifts for the Queen, gently marshalling children, and calming the nerves of the endless stream of local dignitaries who want their moment in the sun.

In the office, she is one of a team still answering the numerous letters sent to the monarch, letting the small children who send pictures and poems know their kindness has not gone unnoticed.

As the Queen begins a new phase of her life without Prince Philip by her side, she will find comfort in the shared memories and constant companionship of a close band of ladies-in-waiting led by Lady Susan.

Prince Philip funeral 2
Prince Philip funeral 2