Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Maid of Honor Died the Night Before State Funeral

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Queen Elizabeth II with her maids of honour, Green Drawing Room, Buckingham palace, 2nd June 1953.
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Lady Mary Russell, the youngest of Queen Elizabeth's six maids of honor for her coronation, died one day before the late monarch's state funeral on Sept. 19. She was 88. 

The Times reported Lady Russell's death in the obituary section, writing that she died "peacefully" at home with her family on Sept. 18. "Beloved wife of David, much-loved mother of Arabella, Anthony, Philip, Jason and Mariana, and dearly loved by her 12 grandchildren," the obituary read. 

Queen Elizabeth's state funeral, held the very next day at Westminster Abbey, welcomed more than 2,000 guests and was watched by millions across the globe. Almost 70 years prior, Lady Russell had accompanied the queen in the same abbey, holding Elizabeth's six-yard train as she processed through the coronation.

At just 19, Lady Russell was the youngest of the six maids of honor in attendance. Her father, the Earl of Haddington, was a childhood friend of the Queen Mother. "It was overwhelming and moving – especially during the anointing," Lady Russell once said, per 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."

On the day, the queen wore a white duchess satin dress embroidered with flowers to represent the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries. The details were so heavy that the gown was estimated to weigh over 11 pounds. 

The dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, the same designer who made her wedding gown in 1947 and designed her maids of honor's gowns. Lady Russell and the other five women wore embroidered silver gowns with silk gloves and tiaras. 

Lady Russell's funeral is scheduled for Oct. 10. She is the second of the six maids of honor to die after Lady Moyra Campbell died in 2020. Still alive today are Dowager Baroness Glenconner, Lady Jane Lacey, Baroness Willoughby de Eresby and Lady Rosemary Muir. 

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