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Heartache for the Queen as she mourns the death of long-serving confidante

The Duchess of Grafton accompanied the monarch on overseas tours

The Queen's Mistress of the Robes has passed away at the age of 101, it has been revealed.

Ann Fortune FitzRoy, Duchess of Grafton, served in the prestigious role from 1967 until her death on Friday 3 December.

The Duchess first began working for the royal household in 1953 as a Lady of the Bedchamber until 1966, when she became Mistress of the Robes.

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She would have been the senior lady and would have been responsible for the Queen's clothes and jewellery, as well as arranging the rota of attendance of the ladies-in-waiting along with various duties at state ceremonies.

The Duchess accompanied the Queen on numerous overseas visits, including Nigeria in 1956, France in 1972, Morocco in 1980 and Russia in 1994.

She was appointed the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1980 – an award made personally by the Queen for services to the sovereign.

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The Duchess of Grafton pictured in 1990

Ann was born in 1920 to Captain Evan Cadogan Eric Smith MC and his wife Beatrice Helen Williams. The monarch's close confidante trained as a nurse at the Great Ormond Street Hospital and in 1946, she married Hugh FitzRoy, who was then the Earl of Euston, and later became the 11th Duke of Grafton.

The couple shared five children, including Lady Virginia Mary Elizabeth FitzRoy, who is one of the Queen's goddaughters.

Ann was widowed when the Duke of Grafton sadly passed away in April 2011, and was succeeded by his grandson, Henry FitzRoy, Viscount Ipswich, as the 12th Duke of Grafton.

The Duchess' death comes just months after the Queen mourned the loss of her beloved husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in April. Prince Philip died at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle with a socially distanced funeral taking place at St George's Chapel.

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