The Queen turned to her loyal lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, for support on the day of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. Many will have wondered who the elegant figure in black accompanying the Queen in companionable silence was; who travelled with the monarch in the State Bentley from the Sovereign’s Entrance of Windsor Castle to the Galilee Porch of St George’s Chapel.
The Queen had reportedly personally asked Lady Susan, 81, to join her for the journey as she prepared to say farewell to her husband of 73 years.
Lady Susan, part of a close inner circle of ladies-in-waiting, has been by the Queen’s side since the birth of Andrew (in 1960) when she joined the royal household to help answer a stream of letters. She is reportedly known affectionately as ‘Number One Head Girl’ in the office and has been described as one of the key trusted figures helping the Queen in her later life.
A Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order – the highest rank personally granted by the sovereign, also bestowed upon the late Prince Philip, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex – Lady Susan is the youngest daughter of the 12th Earl of Waldegrave and the sister of former Tory Cabinet minister, William Waldegrave. As a widow of Marmaduke Hussey, the former chairman of the BBC, she will have been able to relate to the Queen’s loss of a devoted partner.
Close to the Prince of Wales and a godmother to the Duke of Cambridge, photographed with the family at his confirmation, her steady influence has reportedly been felt across generations of the Royal Family. Her exceptional knowledge of the workings of the palace has seen her show newcomers to royal life – including Lady Diana Spencer and the Duchess of Sussex – the ropes. She is said to have recommended Tiggy Legge-Bourke, the nanny of Princes William and Harry, for the job. The late Marmaduke Hussey, who died in 2006, was BBC chairman when Diana, Princess of Wales gave her 1995 Panorama interview.
While her presence has largely been unremarked upon, aside from on Saturday’s outing as a confidante of the Queen, she has often been present through 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 trips to the palace. As a 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.
On top of her Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, which she was awarded in the Queen’s 2013 Birthday Honours, she has also received the Queen Elizabeth II Version of the Royal Household Long and Faithful Service Medal with 30, 40, 50 and 60 year bars. Like other ladies-in-waiting, she is not paid for the role and continues to serve out of personal loyalty to the Queen.
When the Queen was still travelling the globe in her role as Head of State, Lady Susan was by her side. In the office, she is one of a team still answering the numerous letters sent to the monarch.
As the Queen embarks on this new phase of 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. On 17 April, at Prince Philip’s funeral, Lady Susan entered the chapel but was there as a working household member – not one of the 30 guests attending the funeral – so she did not sit with the Windsors.
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