Luckily, for Queen Elizabeth, she didn’t have to go far to find a true friend. The 93-year-old monarch already had one in her sister, Princess Margaret. “They were extremely close and would tell each other anything,” Paul Burrell, former royal butler, exclusively tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “They were raised as ladies of the same era, daughters of a king and very privileged,” he adds.
When they were growing up, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret shared a lot of great experiences. In Scotland, they would often go to pick wild strawberries and bilberries together. Then, when they had enough, they would run back to the palace with their yummy treats.
“Upon their return to the castle, Princess Margaret would insist that they be placed on the tea table, so that they could talk about them,” Paul says. “They both loved the country.”
The two ladies’ friendship got even stronger when Margaret left her husband Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1978. Since she was the first member of the royal family to get divorced in the 400 years since King Henry VIII, Margaret faced a lot of public scrutiny — but she could still rely on her sister for support.
“When Margaret’s marriage was ending, the queen embraced her. Margaret would spend weekends at Windsor Castle in rooms close to the queen, which she had specially decorated for her,” Paul says. “The queen always protected her sister and I think at times she wished she could have been more of a free spirit like Margaret.”
When the princess died from a stroke at the age of 71 in 2002, it hurt Elizabeth greatly. In one year, she lost her sister and her mother. The only person she had left to comfort her was her husband, Prince Philip.
“They were close until the end,” Paul says. “‘We four’ as the king once called his family had become ‘we two.’ And then it was only one.”
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