The Queen’s secret battle

Our beloved Monarch accepted her fate and carried on regardless

She was stoic and steadfast right until the end. But now a source close to the royal family says in the last months of her life, the Queen was secretly battling a particularly painful form of cancer.

Author Gyles Brandreth, who was a good friend of Prince Philip, claims in a new biography that the Queen had myeloma, a form of bone-marrow cancer. He says the disease would explain her tiredness and weight loss, and those “mobility issues” the palace said she was suffering from in the last year or so of her life.

“The most common symptom of myeloma is bone pain, especially in the pelvis and lower back, and multiple myeloma is a disease that often affects the elderly.”

Her cause of death was officially given as “old age”, but that’s common in patients over 80 who have suffered a gradual decline, says Gyles, a former broadcaster and MP who was a confidante of Philip for many years, and is also friends with the King.

Her Majesty was suffering from a form of bone-marrow cancer

Dr Douglas Glass, who looked after the Queen for more than 30 years and was with her when she died, said her death “was expected and we were quite aware of what was going to happen,” according to Gyles’ book Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait.

The Queen began experiencing a sudden “energy low” and feelings of exhaustion in the second half of 2021. Doctors ordered her to rest and not push herself, which led to several cancelled appointments. She reluctantly followed the advice, saying, “I’ve got to be sensible.”

“Until then, her energy had been little short of astonishing,” says Gyles. “Over her final decade, she’d not only continued her work as monarch, but actively engaged with modern life.”

Gyles says the Queen had made peace with the prospect of dying. “The truth is that Her Majesty always knew that her remaining time was limited. She accepted this with all the grace you’d expect.”

One of her last conversations was with Reverend Dr Iain Greenshields, who visited the 96-year-old Queen at Balmoral the weekend before she died on September 8. He’s quoted in the book as saying, “Her faith was everything to her. She told me she had no regrets.”

The Queen was not at Philip’s side when he died

Another revelation Gyles makes is the fact Her Majesty was sadly not with her beloved husband Philip when he died in April 2021. They’d spent a lot of time apart after Philip retired from official duties in 2017, often going for weeks without seeing each other while Philip based himself at the Sandringham estate. Elizabeth respected her husband’s wish “not to be fussed over”.

But after Covid struck, the pair went into lockdown together at Windsor Castle and discovered a new comfort in each other’s company. When Philip’s health deteriorated in March 2021, the Queen barely left his side and was determined to be with him in his final moments of life. But he slipped away so quickly on the morning of April 9, staff were unable to wake her in time to see him.

Despite her intense grief at losing the man she described as her rock, the Queen was a source of comfort to her family and saw it as her “Christian duty” to carry on as best she could. “Life goes on,” she said. “It has to.”

She refused to give in to self-pity. “My husband would certainly not have approved.”

Watching TV helped to keep her spirits up and she particularly enjoyed British dramas like Line of Duty, although she admitted she struggled to keep up with the complicated plot and disliked the “constant mumbling”.

The Queen thought Harry was “a little over-in-love”

More secrets revealed

The book also claims:

  • While Philip thought Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was “madness”, the Queen was more concerned about Harry’s wellbeing. She truly wished him well in his new life in California and hoped he would find “really useful things to do”.

  • Her Majesty was concerned when Meghan was “high-handed” with staff before her wedding, but put it down to nerves. She suggested Sophie, Countess of Wessex could “show you the ropes”, but Meghan wasn’t interested.

  • The Queen told a friend she worried Harry was “perhaps a little over-in-love” with Meghan. “This was as far as she came to ever uttering a word against the new Duchess of Sussex,” says Gyles.

  • Her Majesty took the naming of Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet, after her childhood nickname, “as the compliment it was meant to be”.

  • While she acted quickly to strip her second son Prince Andrew of his titles in the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, she deliberately allowed herself to be photographed riding with him in Windsor Great Park the following day to show her personal support.

  • The Queen had an excellent sense of humour and was delighted to take part in both the James Bond skit with Daniel Craig to open the 2012 Olympics and the one with Paddington Bear as part of her Platinum Jubilee earlier this year. But she would not have done anything like that when her mother, the Queen Mother, was alive as she’d have considered them “undignified”. Her Majesty was very pleased that the Paddington Bear skit was kept quiet until it screened, surprising even close family members. “That was lovely,” she said.

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