The royal photographer, Jane Barlow, who captured the final public images of Queen Elizabeth II – during Her Majesty's first and only meeting with the UK's new Prime Minister, Liz Truss – has shared what the mood was like at Balmoral on that now-poignant day, and their final conversation together.
As well as capturing the moment that Her Majesty shook hands and greeted Truss, Barlow also spent a few minutes alone with the Queen – who she describes as being frail but "in good spirits" – as they waited for the PM's arrival.
In classic British style, Barlow says that she and the Queen made small talk over the mundane, such as the stormy Scottish weather they were experiencing. But, despite the grey skies outside, Her Majesty appeared bright and upbeat.
"I got a lot of smiles from her," Barlow said [via Sky News], recalling their interaction. "I was there to photograph her meeting the new Prime Minister but for me, the best picture was the one of the Queen on her own. And it has obviously become more significant now."
She adds that it was a real "honour" and "a privilege" to have been able to not only spend time with Her Majesty prior to her death at the age of 96, but to have also been able to preserve that momentous day on film, too.
Another person who visited the Queen shortly before her death was church leader, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, who said he was finding it difficult to fathom how quickly Her Majesty's health deteriorated (in such a short space of time). He had been invited to host a sermon in a church where Her Majesty worshipped, and dined with the Queen just a few days prior to her passing.
"This frail lady came in but there was still that sense of who she was and that real sense of making you feel immediately at ease, engaging with you in conversation, a nice bright smile, everything you would expect of your monarch," Greenshields said.
"Her health was frail, we knew that, but when I left her on Sunday she was very positive and I just find it very hard to believe that in those few days things have changed so much."
Greenshields also revealed that he and the Queen spent time discussing the afterlife over lunch, and how Balmoral provided her with a true sense of peace.
"She was just talking about some of the remarkable people she'd met," The Telegraph reports. "And she was reflecting on that and reflecting on life, and where this life leads to, and we just talked about that and eternal life and resurrection, and what these things meant. And then, as happens in that conversation, you just move on to something else.
"I think she loved where she was staying, and she mentioned that more than once, and found great peace in Balmoral, and I think it's very fitting perhaps that that was the place that she died."
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