With a Cane and Holding Her Trusty Handbag: Last Images of Queen Elizabeth II Show She Did Her Duty Until the End


“Dutiful” has been the word constantly used in describing Queen Elizabeth II after her death Thursday at age 96. Nothing depicts this better than the last photos taken of the queen, just 48 hours before her death, as she swore in new British Prime Minister Liz Truss with the ancient ceremony known as “kissing of hands.”

Many tumultuous months for the British government resulted in the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigning and Truss forming a new government as Conservative Party leader, Fox News reported.

Truss had to be formally appointed to her new position by the queen.

Typically, the ancient ceremony takes place at Buckingham Palace, but because of the queen’s “mobility issues,” Truss traveled to Scotland to meet with her at Balmoral Castle, the New York Post reported.

Leaning on her cane, handbag on her arm, simply dressed in a plaid skirt, grey cardigan and pale blue shirt, Elizabeth is seen in the photos of the meeting as a frail yet smiling queen carrying out her royal duties, even in the final hours of her life.

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Queen Elizabeth II greets newly elected leader of the Conservative Party Liz Truss as she arrives at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeen, Scotland, on Tuesday.
Queen Elizabeth II greets newly elected leader of the Conservative Party Liz Truss as she arrives at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeen, Scotland, on Tuesday. (Jane Barlow – WPA Pool / Getty Images)

This should come as no surprise as the queen’s 70 years on the throne were consistently marked by her dutiful service to her nation.

On her 21st birthday, Elizabeth promised her life to the service of her country and people.

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” the princess said in a radio broadcast from South Africa on April 21, 1947.

“But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it,” she said.

Throughout the seven decades of her reign, the queen lived through 15 prime ministers, Britain’s slow recovery from World War II, the Cold War, economic crises, Brexit, royal family scandals and much more.

“She endured through it all — a reassuring anchor in a fast-changing world,” The Associated Press said in its obituary Thursday.

Though she was one of the most famous figures in the world for her whole life, Elizabeth was praised for how she approached her royal status.

“A lot of it comes from her modesty, the fact that she’s very conscious that she’s not important, that she’s there to do a job, that it’s the institution that matters,” royal historian Robert Lacey told the AP.

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So it came as little surprise that in the very final hours of her life, the queen was doing just as she had always done: her duty.

“Elizabeth understood her duty to efface herself in service to a highly abstract role: The Queen. The same tomorrow, the same next year, the same more than 70 years after she began,” author and journalist David Von Drehle wrote in an Op-Ed for The Washington Post commemorating the queen.

As people from all around the globe mourn her loss and remember her life and reign, the U.K. will observe a national 10 days of mourning, the Independent reported.

Afterward, the queen will be laid to rest in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, along with her husband, Prince Philip, and her parents, Queen Elizabeth and King George VI.

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