Forever in her heart. Princess Anne honored her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, with a touching tribute following her death at age 96.
“I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest Mother’s life. It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys. Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting,” the Princess Royal, 72, wrote in a statement shared via the royal family’s Instagram account on Tuesday, September 13. “We will all share unique memories. I offer my thanks to each and every one who share our sense of loss.”
The post included a smiling photo of the mother-daughter duo. “We may have been reminded how much of her presence and contribution to our national identity we took for granted. I am also so grateful for the support and understanding offered to my dear brother Charles as he accepts the added responsibilities of The Monarch,” Anne continued. “To my mother, The Queen, thank you.”
The Olympian broke her silence less than one week after her mother’s death at her Balmoral home in Scotland. Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday, September 8, that Her Majesty’s medical team was worried about her health. “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” the statement read, hours before she passed away. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
As funeral preparations got underway during the U.K.’s official mourning period, Anne shared another emotional moment with her siblings, curtsying to Elizabeth’s coffin as it arrived at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Sunday, September 11.
Three months before her passing, the queen was honored for her 70 years on the British throne in June with a four-day Platinum Jubilee celebration in London. Elizabeth kicked off the historic festivities during the Trooping the Colour from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Anne was one of many family members on hand to toast the queen and her service. She rode alongside the British troops before meeting her mother on the balcony to take in the rest of the parade. While Elizabeth later missed several events due to feeling some “discomfort” at Trooping the Colour, she made a surprise appearance at the Jubilee Pageant. The sovereign stepped out on the palace balcony to wave to onlookers.
The queen also got to meet Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s daughter, Lilbet, during the Jubilee. Lili was named for Elizabeth, whose nickname from late husband Prince Philip was “Lilibet.” (She was born in June 2021.)
Anne shared a close bond with the late royal ahead of her passing. As the only daughter of Elizabeth and the late Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021 at the age of 99, the princess had characteristics of both her parents.
The princess is known for having a sharp tongue and quick wit like her late father and has a strong work ethic that was inspired by how hard the queen worked throughout her time as the longest-reigning sovereign in U.K. history.
“It’s not just about, ‘Can I get a tick in the box for doing this?’ No, it’s about serving …. It comes from an example from both my parents’ way of working and where they saw their role being,” Anne told Vanity Fair in April 2020 about her drive to give back to her country. “I mean, my father served. It was a more direct form of service, I suppose you could argue. And the queen’s [actions] have been a lifelong service in a slightly different way, but they both have that perspective of service which is about working with people.”
The Princess Royal, who shares children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall with her ex-husband, Mark Phillips, joked that she doesn’t think “retirement is quite the same” for her as for others, noting she had no plans to stop working anytime soon — again following in her mother’s footsteps.
“Most people would say we’re very lucky not to be in that situation because you wouldn’t want to just stop. It is, to a large extent, the choice of the organizations you’re involved with and whether they feel you’re still relevant,” she told the outlet. “But I think both my father and my mother have, quite rightly, made decisions about, you know, ‘I can’t spend enough time doing this and we need to find somebody else to do it,’ because it makes sense. I have to admit they continued being there for a lot longer than I had in mind, but we’ll see.”
As a young girl, Anne bonded with the late monarch over their love of horses, which continued throughout Elizabeth’s life. Anne was the first royal to compete in the Olympics as an equestrian and the mother-daughter duo were often photographed riding side by side. The passion for horses was passed down to Anne’s daughter.
The pair remained close until the very end, with Anne helping her mother learn to navigate video calls in July 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. When Elizabeth’s husband of 73 years was admitted to the hospital in February 2021 to undergo heart surgery, the queen leaned on “her loved ones for support,” including her daughter and three sons, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, a source told Us at the time.
Two months later, an insider told Us that Elizabeth was “heartbroken” over the loss of Philip who had been by her side since they tied the knot in November 1947. The couple had already welcomed their two eldest children, Charles and Anne, when she became queen in 1953.
The late royals are survived by their four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.