Queen Elizabeth is in mourning as a longtime friend and confidante, Ann Fortune FitzRoy, the Dowager Duchess of Grafton, has died at age 101. FitzRoy served as the monarch's Mistress of the Robes, per Royal Central. No exact date of death or cause of death has been reported in the media.
FitzRoy joined the Royal Household in 1953, which was the year after Elizabeth succeeded to the throne. Her role as the Mistress of the Robes means that she was the senior lady in the Royal Household. She was named Elizabeth's Mistress of the Robes in 1967 and held the position up until her death. The role involved organizing the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, arranging the monarch's clothing and jewelry, and attending various events alongside her. The position was previously referred to as the First Lady of the Bedchamber. Royal Central noted that, in modern times, the position is typically filled by a duchess. Before FitzRoy, the position was held by Mary Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire.
FitzRoy, who was born Ann Fortune Smith, married Hugh Denis Charles FitzRoy in 1946. At the time, Hugh was known as the Earl of Euston. He eventually succeeded as the 11th Duke of Grafton in 1970 and his wife then became known as the Duchess of Grafton. FitzRoy welcomed five children with her husband — James FitzRoy, Earl of Euston, Lady Henrietta FitzRoy, Lady Virginia FitzRoy, Lord Charles FitzRoy, and Lady Rose FitzRoy. When the Duke of Grafton died in 2011, he was succeeded by Henry FitzRoy, his grandson and the son of his eldest child, James, who died in 2009.
As royal watchers know, this isn't the only major loss that Elizabeth has experienced this year. In April, her husband, Prince Philip, died at age 99. He was the longest-serving British consort in history at the time of his passing. Months after his death, the Queen spoke about her husband while delivering a speech at the opening ceremony for the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament in October. She shared how much she and Philip loved Scotland, telling the crowd, "I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country, and of the many happy memories Prince Philip and I always held of our time here. It is often said that it is the people that make a place, and there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland, as we have seen in recent times."