The Queen died at Balmoral of ‘old age’, it was revealed yesterday – the first time a monarch’s death certificate is believed to have been made public.
But the document also raises intriguing questions after details on it confirmed that Prince Harry was not informed of his grandmother’s death for more than three hours.
Only her two eldest children – King Charles and his sister, Princess Anne – were with their mother when she died at 3.10pm on September 8. Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, as well as Prince Andrew and Prince William, were all on a plane heading for Scotland at the time and are believed to have been informed mid-air.
Prince Harry, meanwhile, had not even made it to an airport amid apparent confusion over whether he should travel up to Aberdeenshire with his wife Meghan. He finally got a private jet from Luton at 5.35pm, landing at Aberdeen at 6.47pm.
The Queen died at Balmoral of ‘old age’, it was revealed yesterday – the first time a monarch’s death certificate is believed to have been made public
It has already been confirmed by palace sources that his father only managed to contact his son mid-air at 6.25pm – just five minutes before the news the world had been dreading was officially announced.
Charles had insisted all afternoon on telling his youngest son personally before any official statement was released by Buckingham Palace.
He had already rung both Harry and his brother, William, earlier in the day to tell them to get up to Scotland as quickly as possible because their grandmother was rapidly fading. He then returned to the Queen’s bedside.
But that leaves a crucial two hours and 25 minutes between the Queen dying and Harry taking to the air, when it appears there was no communication between the prince and his family.
In contrast, the Prime Minister, Liz Truss, was informed at 4.30pm. Palace officials declined to comment last night, while other royal sources were unable to explain the discrepancy. But insiders stressed that the old-fashioned King does not have a mobile phone and his diary is such that calls between himself and his family normally have to be ‘scheduled in’.
Family members have to resort to calling staff or even one of his police bodyguards to try to get an urgent message to him.
Others said it was likely the King wanted to tell his son personally, but with the clock ticking for the release of an official announcement, simply ran out of time.
But that leaves a crucial two hours and 25 minutes between the Queen dying and Harry taking to the air, when it appears there was no communication between the prince and his family. Pictured: Prince Harry arriving at Balmoral shortly after Queen Elizabeth passed away
Sources with intimate knowledge of Operation London Bridge – the plan to manage the aftermath of Queen’s death – also stressed that as well as the dealing with the inevitable grief of the situation, there would have been a mass of administration to cope with.
‘I’m sure, as with everything, there is a meticulous plan on paper but then the chaos of actual life happens amid the trauma of their personal grief,’ said one.
Another source explained that ‘few people in the family’ were regularly in touch with Harry any more and that he could also be ‘incredibly hard to reach’.
Whatever the truth, it highlights the complexity of the relationship between the Royal Family and Harry, which saw him leave Balmoral on the first possible fight out of Aberdeen the morning after his grandmother died.
He remained in the UK until the day after the funeral, and was seen publicly at a walkabout at Windsor with his brother and their wives, and at the funeral itself. He was also seen at the vigil.
The possibility of behind-the-scenes family ructions have already been raised after it emerged that the plane containing Edward, Andrew and William up to Scotland was delayed by an hour. It had been scheduled for 1.30pm but did not take off until 2.39pm.
Just before 2pm that day a spokesman for the Sussexes announced that both Harry and Meghan would be travelling to Scotland together.
This came as a surprise to many as only close family members would be expected to be present, aside from the Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, to whom the Queen was close. Kate, the then-Duchess of Cambridge decided to stay at Windsor with her and William’s three children.
Half an hour after their initial announcement, a spokesman for the Sussexes issued a correction, saying that only Harry intended to travel. The discrepancy was later explained away as a ‘mistake’.
Sources with intimate knowledge of Operation London Bridge – the plan to manage the aftermath of Queen’s death – also stressed that as well as the dealing with the inevitable grief of the situation, there would have been a mass of administration to cope with
Harry’s team hurriedly chartered a private jet – at an estimated cost of £30,000 – from Luton. It was later claimed by The Sun that Harry missed the RAF flight due to a ‘row over Meghan’ after his father told him it was ‘not appropriate’ to bring her.
It has also been claimed that, although Charles did try to call his son to tell him that his grandmother had died, the phone call did not actually go through. It is said that, although Harry knew his father was trying to speak to him, the prince actually read a breaking news announcement online before they could work the technology to speak.
This has been disputed by the palace, however, with a spokesman for the King has insisting the announcement of the Queen’s death ‘was not made until all family members had been informed’.
The Queen’s death certificate was finally released the Scottish Registrar General, Paul Lowe, exactly three weeks to the day after she died. By law it should be registered within eight days. The certificate records that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, a widow, died at Balmoral Castle in Ballater, Aberdeenshire, at the age of 96.
It lists her usual residence as Windsor Castle and her occupation as ‘Her Majesty The Queen’.
The certifying registered medical practitioner was Douglas James Allan Glass. He has been Apothecary to Her Majesty’s Household at Balmoral since 1998.
The doctor, who is the GP in the village of Braemar, close to Balmoral, told The Times that he was present at her death and it was ‘not unexpected’. He said: ‘We have been concerned about the Queen’s health for several months.’
The cause of death, ‘old age’, is the same as that given for Prince Philip in April 2021. In Scotland, it should not be recorded as a sole cause, although there are exceptions, including the certifying doctor having personally cared for the deceased over a long period and observing a gradual decline.