Our kind Queen: A life and legacy of kindness and love
A monarch who will be sadly missed
Queen Elizabeth II's legacy of kindness lives on after her sad passing at the age of 96, at Balmoral, surrounded by the love of her family.
Kindness was at the heart of everything she did: whether it was something she said, a small gesture or her charitable work.
Speaking from the heart, she believed human beings to be capable of "great acts of kindness", and lived her life showing others by example.
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Her family, world leaders and everyone who met her remarked upon her kind heart and generous nature. A woman of her word, Her Majesty kept the promise she made everyone on her 21st birthday in 1947 until the day she died.
She said: "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."
The people who knew and loved the queen shine a light on her kindest moments…
The Queen and her lifelong love the Duke of Edinburgh on Coronation Day
The Princess of Wales said the Queen's kindness could be seen in the simplest of her gestures.
At Sandringham for the first time for Christmas, she worried about what to give Her Majesty. "I was thinking, 'Gosh, what should I give her?' I thought back to what I would give my own grandparents," Princess Kate said.
Princess Kate and the Queen having a lovely day at Chelsea Flower Show
"And I thought, 'I'll make her something.' Which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney."
Kate and the Queen out on an engagement at King's College London in 2019
The next day the chutney was on the table. This remains a fond memory for Princess Kate. "I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me," she told the cameras for ITV documentary Our Queen at Ninety.
"I've noticed since she's done that on lots of occasions and I think it just shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody." She added: "She really cares."
As a very loving great-granny, Her Majesty always loved to treat her great-grandchildren.
The Queen enjoying time with her great-grandchildren
The generous monarch would have a small treat every time she visited them. It was a sign of her great love for her family.
"She always leaves a little gift or something in their room when we go and stay and that just shows her love for her family," Princess Kate said of the Queen.
The Prince of Wales looked up to his grandmother and he praised her for her kindness to him when his mum Princess Diana died.
"She's been a very strong female influence and having lost my mother at a young age, it's particularly important to me that I've had somebody like the Queen to look up to and who's been there and who has understood some of the more complex issues when you lose a loved one," Prince William told cameras for Sky News documentary The Queen At 90.
"She's been incredibly supportive and I've really appreciated her guidance."
The Queen with Prince William and Harry when they were young
Forever in awe of his grandmother's kindness, Prince William loved to share that private side of the Queen with the rest of the world.
"I am privileged to witness the private side of the queen as a grandmother and great-grandmother," he wrote in the preface to Elizabeth II: The Steadfast, Lord Hurd's biography of the Queen in 2015.
Prince William kisses his grandmother in a tender moment
"The Queen's kindness, sense of humour, her innate sense of calm and perspective and her love of family and home are all attributes I experience first-hand."
In the wake of her death, Prince William said it was his grandmother's kindness that had stood out to him. He said: "I thank her for the kindness she showed my family and me."
"We have a really special relationship," Prince Harry said of his bond with his grandmother.
Her Majesty was one of the most important women in his life and she was a pillar of support to him when his mum Princess Diana died.
Prince Harry and the Queen shared an incredibly close bond
The Queen also showed great kindness in her unwavering support for Harry and Meghan when they chose to quit their senior roles and move to the US.
She told the world: "Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life."
Joining the royal family as Prince Harry's wife would have been daunting for anyone, but Meghan revealed the Queen always showed her great kindness and put her at ease.
Her Majesty was thoughtful and didn't miss the small details. Ahead of their first joint royal engagement together, Queen Elizabeth II spent time with the duchess and gave her a "beautiful" gift.
Meghan and the Queen enjoying a chat
This stayed with Meghan. "The Queen has always been wonderful to me," Meghan told Oprah. "We had one of our first joint engagements together. She asked me to join her, and I was on the train.
"And we have breakfast together that morning and she gave me a beautiful gift and I just really loved being in her company. She gave me some beautiful pearl earrings and a matching necklace."
King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla
We love that our kind-hearted Queen revealed in her final months that it was her wish for Camilla to be known as Queen Consort.
Queen Elizabeth II with her son Charles as a boy
She made the kind gesture on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee, celebrating 70 years of her reign.
"When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service," she said.
Charles and Camilla join the Queen out and about
Camilla later said she was "very honoured and very touched" by the Queen’s sweet gesture.
Her Majesty touched Michelle Obama's heart with her incredible kindness. It was such a sweet gesture when the monarch proudly wore a jewel-encrusted pin that the former US first lady had gifted her.
Speaking about the Queen, Michelle said: "I remember, I don't know if it was the first visit or the second visit, we gave her this little pin. You know, 'what do you give her Majesty the Queen?'
The Obamas joined the Queen ahead of a dinner at Winfield House in 2011
"It's like, ok, we gave her a little pin and I remember the evening of the dinner after we exchanged gifts, we were standing in line and she had on a beautiful – I'm sure it was covered in diamonds and a crown, and you sort of look and go 'all of that is real', you know. "You go 'that's nice'. But it's all real. And in the gloriousness of that outfit that she had on she put on the little bitty pin we gave her."
Buckingham Palace staff
We are delighted to hear how the Queen, behind Palace doors, had a lovely way about her.
Former Royal butler Grant Harrold revealed: "I remember thinking how short she was, you don't realise how short she is - that was the first thing. The other thing I remember is the wonderful kind of way she had about her, she wasn't very regal or royal, but we had a really nice conversation and I felt really relaxed around her."
She also showed great kindness to Angela Kelly, who moved to live closer to her at Windsor Castle recently.
Queen Elizabeth II sits with Anna Wintour as well as her dressmaker Angela Kelly
In a kind move before her passing, the monarch gave her authority for her Personal Advisor and Curator to continue living there after her death.
Former lady-in-waiting Lady Angela Oswald also had a remarkable story about the Queen. "Goodness shines out of her," she said.
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She revealed how Her Majesty was kind to her husband Sir Michael Oswald, who had been her racing advisor for almost 30 years, when he got dementia.
"She allowed Michael to think that he was running her horses just as long as his mind worked at all, she didn't make him retire. It was extraordinarily kind," she revealed. "She explained after he died that it was because their friendship had gone back for 50 years."
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