Queen's final goodbye to beloved cousin Margaret Rhodes: Her Majesty and Prince Philip joined mourners at the funeral of her childhood companion, 91, with an 'adventurous spirit' 

  • Monarch joined mourners at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park 
  • Margaret Rhodes died on November 25 at the age of 91 following a short illness
  • Was the Queen's friend since childhood and bridesmaid at her 1947 wedding

The Queen has paid her last respects to her beloved first cousin and close friend Margaret Rhodes.

The monarch, who rarely attends funerals apart from for members of the Royal Family, demonstrated her affection for her confidante by joining mourners at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park.

At her side in her time of grief was the Duke of Edinburgh and a large contingent from the Royal Family including the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Close friends: Queen Elizabeth and her friend and first cousin, the late Margaret Rhodes, take a break during a trek through the deer stalking area at Balmoral, Scotland

This photograph shows a young Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and their cousin Margaret Elphinstone, later Rhodes 

Mrs Rhodes (left) who was 91 and less than a year older than the Queen, died on November 25 after a short illness. She was one of the Queen's playmates as a child

The congregation, which included many of the Queen Mother's descendants, heard of the Hon Mrs Rhodes's 'adventurous spirit' and her encouragement for her children.

The Queen, dressed in black, gathered with Mrs Rhodes's family for the private service in the packed gothic Victorian chapel in the grounds of the Royal Lodge.

It is unusual for the Queen to attend the funerals of those who are not HRHs, but Mrs Rhodes, whom she was related to on her mother's side, was a childhood companion of the monarch's.

Last year, at the same chapel, the Queen surprised the congregation by attending a service for her corgi keeper Nancy Fenwick - who spent decades looking after her dogs.

A piper's lament was played in honour of Mrs Rhodes by Max Stewart, the Queen's former personal piper at Balmoral, and the hymns sung were The Lord is My Shepherd, Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.

Mrs Rhodes, who was 91 and less than a year older than the Queen, died on November 25 after a short illness. She was one of the Queen's playmates as a child.

Margaret Rhodes' mother Lady Mary Bowes-Lyon was a sister of the Queen Mother (right)

Mrs Rhodes seen centre with the Queen, left, and lady-in-waiting Susan Hussey at Balmoral in a picture taken from the book The Queen's Story 

The Queen and her first cousin enjoy lunch at Glen Beg, Her Majesty's log cabin on the Balmoral estate in Scotland 

The pair maintained a close friendship and Mrs Rhodes was a bridesmaid at the Queen's 1947 wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen regularly visited her at her Windsor home.

Mrs Rhodes once described how they would play 'at being horses' when they were children.

'We were circus horses, or riding ponies or anything you like but it involved a lot of neighing, and cantering and galloping,' she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme in 2006.

She was born the Honourable Margaret Elphinstone in 1925 and her mother was the Queen Mother's eldest sister.

She married Denys Gravenor Rhodes in 1950 and the couple had two sons and two daughters together. Her husband died in 1981.

She served as lady-in-waiting to her aunt, the Queen Mother, for 10 years and was at her bedside when she died in 2002.

During World War II, Mrs Rhodes - who was born in London - lived at both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle when she worked as a secretary for MI6. 

The Honourable Margaret Rhodes appeared on This Morning to mark the Queen's Jubilee in 2011

She shared stories from behind the palace doors in an appearance on This Morning in 2011 

Before the Queen's 80th birthday ten years ago she gave an interview and confirmed that the Queen would not retire, despite rumours. 

In 2013, she was asked whether she was excited about the upcoming birth of Prince George.

She famously replied: 'Not terribly, everybody has babies so I wouldn't get terribly excited about it.' 

The 19th century chapel is well known to the Queen and she usually worships there each weekend. It is offers more privacy than the closer St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

It is considered an informal parish church for the inhabitants and staff of Windsor Great Park, and was where the Queen Mother's coffin rested before being moved to London ahead of lying in state.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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