Fortune FitzRoy, Duchess of Grafton

Sad news out of the UK today! Fortune FitzRoy, the Dowager Duchess of Grafton, has died at the age of 101, just three months before her 102nd Birthday. The Dowager Duchess was the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting for almost seven decades years, and Mistress of the Robes, the most Senior Lady-in-Waiting, for over 50 years. Our condolences to the Duchess’ family and friends!

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Born Ann Fortune Smith to Captain Evan Cadogan Eric Smith and Beatrice Williams, her brother, Sir John Smith, was a financier with the family’s Smith’s Bank of Nottingham, an MP, and the founder of the Landmark Trust. In 1946, she married the Earl of Euston, the heir of the 10th Duke of Grafton and an illegitimate descendent of King Charles II, who succeeded to the title in 1970. The Duke and Duchess had five children and remained happily married until his death in 2011, when he was succeeded by their grandson, the 12th Duke, who now resides at the family seat, Euston Hall.

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Between 1953 and 1966, the Countess was a Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen and since the retirement of Mary, Duchess of Devonshire in 1967, the Duchess has been the Mistress of the Robes, the Queen’s leading Lady-in-Waiting, through she had largely retired from Official Duties in recent years. The Duchess also served as Justice of the peace for West Sussex between 1972 and 1990.

The Duchess of Grafton’s Pearl and Diamond Tiara

A former Royal Footman said about the Duchess:

Wearing a full-length dark woollen coat with bright multi-coloured Hermes silk headscarf, and black patent leather, low-heeled court shoes, I saw Her Grace sweeping across the gravel forecourt and up the few low, red-carpeted steps to the Privy Purse door, and into the Palace.

I remember The Duchess being very well-spoken with impeccable manners, just like Her Majesty, and always presented with a subtle application of make-up in natural colours, and the very sweet scent of Floris perfume – quite elegant.”

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