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HELLO!'s legendary royal correspondent Judy Wade dies aged 81

Judy worked for HELLO! for 27 years

Thomas Whitaker

Judy Wade, HELLO!'s legendary royal correspondent for 27 years, has died in hospital at the age of 81 after a short illness.

A trailblazing woman journalist, she reported on royal births, deaths and marriages and crossed the globe on royal tours until her retirement from Britain's best-loved magazine in 2015.

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Judy reported on royal births, deaths and marriages

She was one of the lucky few to be offered a seat inside Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011 to witness the marriage of Kate Middleton to Prince William, writing enough copy to fill 50 pages in what would become one of our biggest-selling issues ever.

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WATCH: Sarah, Duchess of York pays tribute to Judy Wade

Other highlights included being introduced to the Queen at Buckingham Palace at a reception in 2011 alongside HELLO!'s chairman and editorial director, Eduardo Sánchez Pérez.

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The Queen meets Judy and HELLO!'s chairman Eduardo Sánchez Pérez

Known for her colourful outfits and larger than life presence, she spent 17 years at The Sun before joining HELLO! for its launch in 1988. Much of her early life at HELLO! centred around writing about our first big cover star, the Princess of Wales.

With impeccable contacts and a deep desire to stick to the truth she went on to write some of the defining books on the late Princess including Diana, Portrait of a Princess and Charles and Diana: Inside a Royal Marriage. She would chat to Diana and also got to know Sarah, Duchess of York and her daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie; relationships she continued until her death.

Sarah told HELLO!: "Judy was such a strong character and she pulled off that most difficult of feats: being admired and respected both by her journalistic peers and those she was writing about. It's incredible to think that she covered the royal family for 27 years for HELLO!.

"I got to know her after my engagement [to Prince Andrew, in 1986] and over many years that followed found that she was always scrupulously fair in what she wrote. She was incredibly supportive of my charity work – she must have been at nearly all of the 28 openings of Teenage Cancer Trust units around the country. She was smart and kind and also a trailblazing woman journalist working in an area that had been traditionally dominated by men. I was proud to call her my friend."

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Pictured with the Duchess of York

She was also a regular face on TV, always looking glamorous and offering so much insight for viewers. Paying tribute, HELLO!'s editor in chief Rosie Nixon says: "Judy was such a character and a brilliant reporter liked by her peers and royals alike. She cared so much and I loved working with her.

"Her stories were always entertaining and she was dedicated to her role as royal correspondent of HELLO!. In her time she helped to build our strong and trusted connections with members of the Royal family. We were all saddened to hear of her passing, but her legacy lives on in our magazine."

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Judy had a great rapport with the royal family

Photographer Mark Stewart, who worked alongside Judy for 30 years, adds: "Judy was the doyenne of royal reporters. She never tired of the royal story and was always looking for a new angle. She was generous, a great friend and one of a kind. Working with her was never dull and life will be less colourful without her."

Judy is survived by a daughter, Jordan, and two grandchildren.