New Book Reveals Intimate Details About the Final Years of Her Late Majesty’s Life

She knew her time was limited, and “she accepted this with all the good grace you’d expect.”

Queen Elizabeth
(Image credit: Getty)

Three aspects of life that will seemingly never cease to exist: death, taxes, and books about the royal family. The latest in the long list of royal tomes stands out amongst the crowded room for its deeply personal look into Her late Majesty in her final years, including shedding light on her unflappable stoicism, the television show she watched to comfort herself after husband Prince Philip’s death, and how she handled disturbing revelations about son Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein. (The book, Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait, is by author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth and is due out December 8.)

The fascinating anecdotes are numerous—and large snippets can be found via The Daily Mail—and include revelations that the late Queen told a lady-in-waiting that she was determined to keep busy after Philip’s death in April 2021, as it helped her cope with his loss. (The couple were married for over 73 years.) Queen Consort Camilla—then the Duchess of Cornwall—said her mother-in-law was simply “unstoppable.”

But, by the fall of 2021, Her late Majesty had pushed herself so hard that she suffered a sudden “energy low,” with doctors encouraging her to take it easy. “I’ve got to be sensible,” she said reluctantly, a rare acknowledgement of frailty.

The book also reveals that, after Philip retired from royal duties in 2017, he and the Queen would go weeks without seeing one another (though they did speak regularly on the phone). Yet in lockdown during the pandemic, the couple decided to spend more time together, and were by one another’s side almost constantly. Her late Majesty barely left Philip’s side in the weeks before he died—determined to be with him when he took his final breath—but apparently Philip died so quickly on April 9 that “staff were unable to wake her in time to see him,” the book reveals.

The Queen, enormously grieving but bound by her sense of duty to keep on—“Life goes on. It has to,” she said—found comfort watching shows like the BBC’s Line of Duty. She obviously did not find comfort in the disturbing allegations surrounding Andrew but had no hesitation in stripping her “favorite child” of his royal duties, with a senior courtier revealing “the Queen took a firm grip of things. To use the military jargon, there were only a few days between flash and bang. Action was called for it, and she took it.” After Andrew explained to her in his own words his association with Epstein, she apparently responded with just one word: “Intriguing.”

It was also revealed that it was the Queen who came up with the idea to keep Daniel Craig waiting in her beloved James Bond sketch at the 2012 Olympic Games, but only felt comfortable doing stunts like that after her mother, The Queen Mother, passed away in 2002, as it was felt she would have deemed them “a bit undignified.”

One of her last conversations two days before her death on September 8 was with Clive Cox, one of her favorite racehorse trainers. She called him at 10 o’clock in the morning, and Cox called her “sharp as a tack,” according to The Sun. Before her death, she knew her time was limited, the book says, and “she accepted this with all the good grace you’d expect.”

Adding this book to the holiday wish list immediately.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.