Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey last week was attended by more than 2,000 people and watched by millions more. It’s now become public that Lady Mary Russell, the youngest of six maids of honor at her 1953 coronation, died the night before.
The 88-year-old’s obituary in The Times of London confirmed Russell “died peacefully at home with her family around her” on Sept. 18. She left behind her husband, David, children Arabella, Anthony, Philip, Jason and Mariana, as well as 12 grandchildren.
Russell had known the queen for years before she was chosen to serve at her coronation on June 2, 1953. Her father, the Earl of Haddington, was a lifelong friend of the queen’s mother, according to Harper’s Bazaar. Russell was only 19 when Queen Elizabeth was crowned.
Photos of the occasion show Russell and her fellow maids of honor standing alongside Queen Elizabeth, who wore golden bracelets, a silver-white dress embroidered with gold, and a crown. Her maids of honor were dressed in the same palette with fewer accessories.
Russell and her fellow maids of honor were tasked with holding Queen Elizabeth’s 21-foot train as she navigated her way through the coronation, according to ET Online. The occasion took place at Westminster Abbey, where the queen’s funeral was held nearly 70 years later.
“It was overwhelming and moving — especially during the anointing,” Russell once told Tatler. “It was an incredible moment, but all I could think about was how heavy the embroidery felt. Of all the girls our age in the country, we six girls were chosen to carry the Queen’s train and that meant a great deal.”
The queen’s coronation dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartwell who also crafted her wedding gown in 1947, according to People. It was fitted with embroidered flowers representing the U.K. and its Commonwealth countries at the queen’s request, leading to a total weight of 11 pounds.
Russell is the second of the six maids of honor to pass away. Lady Moyra Campbell died in 2020 at age 90; Dowager Baroness Glenconner, Lady Jane Lacey, Baroness Willoughby de Eresby and Lady Rosemary Muir are still alive.