Queen's Olympic co-star is her new 'rock' and Liverpool docker's daughter also among close friends supporting her
THE Queen's closest aides have drawn around her in the wake of Prince Philip's death – with her Olympic co-star and a docker's daughter from Liverpool among those supporting her.
Her page Paul Whybrew, who appeared alongside Her Majesty in the James Bond sketch at the London 2012 games, and "humble" Angela Kelly, the Queen’s personal assistant and senior dresser, will be among those offering companionship.
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Another important figure is the monarch's head groom, Terry Pendry, with whom she rides regularly.
One friend told the Times the Queen has received great support from her family, notably her children and Sophie Wessex – but those she feels most comfortable with are not necessarily family members.
It comes as:
- Prince Philip thought Meghan and Harry's Oprah interview was "madness", it's claimed
- The Queen went to church and walked her corgi puppies on her first Sunday without her beloved husband
- Prince Harry has arrived back in the UK alone after medics advised his pregnant wife not to travel
- The Duke of Sussex may be expected to not wear his military uniform at the funeral – although his brother will
- Just 30 mourners will attend the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral – with Mike Tindall, Princess Alexandra and the Earl of Snowdon likely to be among those invited
"Her ladies-in-waiting will be critical," the pal said.
"People talk about the Duke being the Queen's rock, which he was.
"But so is Paul Whybrew.
"He has been such a loyal servant, and a crucial member of 'HMS Bubble' at Windsor.
"She will be relying heavily on him."
Perhaps the closest to the Queen outside of her family, however, is Ms Kelly, who is known in royal circles as "the gatekeeper".
The daughter of a crane operator at Liverpool docks, she once said: “I come from a humble background and I hope to stay humble.”
Ms Kelly met the Queen in 1992 while working as a housekeeper for the British ambassador to Germany.
She was offered a job in the royal household the following year, and said: “I suppose the Queen must have liked me and decided I was trustworthy and discreet."
Her Majesty's close circle of friends and loyal assistants will be at hand to support and comfort her as she adjusts to life alone after a marriage lasting 73 years.
In terms of family, the publication says the Queen has leaned on her daughter-in-law, the Countess of Wessex.
Sophie, who lives near Windsor, is "always popping in", the source said.
Yesterday, the Countess spoke to mourners after attending a Sunday service in Royal Lodge, Windsor with her husband Edward and brother-in-law Andrew.
With tears in her eyes, she told them Prince Philip had died 'gently'.
"It was so gentle, it was just like someone took him by the hand and off he went," she said.
"Very, very peaceful – and that's all you want with somebody isn't it?"
And she visited Windsor hours after the Duke's death before briefly stopping to tell reporters the Queen had been "amazing".
The monarch is being strongly supported by her children and grandchildren.
Prince Charles will be particularly concerned – while William is "devastated", the source told the paper.
“[Charles] is such a sensitive, emotional man, he’ll really be feeling it and will be looking at his mother, worrying whether she’s all right,” the friend said.
“Prince William will be devastated.
"He and his grandmother have grown so much closer recently.
"Princess Anne will be very present, the whole family will rally, as they have been while Philip was fading.”
Meanwhile, Prince Andrew is understood to have been among the first to return to Windsor Castle to comfort his mother.
The Duke of York, who lives at the Royal Lodge on the Windsor estate, arrived at the back entrance to the Queen's private apartments on Friday morning.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he was interviewed by Emily Maitlis on Newsnight, he said yesterday his mother had a "huge void in her life".
"We the family – the ones that are closer – are rallying round to make sure we're there," he said.
'CHARLES WILL WORRY – WILLIAM WILL BE DEVASTATED'
He added Brits have lost the "grandfather of the nation", and said his mother the Queen "is feeling it probably more than anyone else".
Meanwhile, over the weekend Prince Charles said goodbye to his "dear papa".
In an emotional statement, Charles said he misses his father "enormously" and the Duke would be "so deeply touched" by the outpouring of grief.
Prince Philip's televised funeral will take place on April 17 at 3pm in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Brits have entered a week-long period of official mourning – while the Royal Family will mourn for a fortnight.
And the prince – who had firmly told his family he didn't want a state funeral – will be taken to St George's Chapel by a specially-modified Land Rover.
His son Charles and grandsons Harry and William will join an eight-minute procession to the chapel.
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