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From Queen's fury over Lilibet to Her Majesty's final moments: What we've learned from King Charles’ new biography
16 January 2024, 09:46 | Updated: 16 January 2024, 13:55
A new book about King Charles' life and first year as monarch has already stirred controversy with bombshell claims - from the late Queen’s fury about the Sussexes naming their daughter after her, to how she spent her last moments.
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Amid fresh debate about the monarchy, Charles III. New King. New Court. The Inside Story by royal writer Robert Hardman will hit the shelves on Thursday.
The book claims to give new insider insight from “unrivalled access" to the royals, friends of the King and Queen, key officials and courtiers to chart the transition from the last days of Queen Elizabeth to the ascension of King Charles to the throne.
One of the most shocking revelations from the book so far has come from a royal aide who claimed that the Queen was “as angry as I’d ever seen her,” after Harry and Meghan announced that they would name their daughter Lilibet.
The Duke and Duchess announced the birth of their daughter in June 2021, whose full name is Lilibet (“Lili”) Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, naming her after the affectionate nickname used for the late monarch.
Harry claimed that he had spoken to the Queen in advance of naming their baby daughter after her, adding that the monarch had given her blessing.
But the claim is disrupted in Mr Hardman’s book, who wrote: "One privately recalled that Elizabeth II had been 'as angry as I’d ever seen her 'in 2021 after the Sussexes announced that she had given them her blessing to call their baby daughter 'Lilibet, the Queen’s childhood nickname."
Mr Hardman alleges that “when the Sussexes tried to co-opt the palace into propping up their version of events, they were rebuffed,” adding that it was a case of "recollections may vary".
Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, 2022 leading to a period of national mourning with the moanrch’ Lying-in-State inside Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster to allow the public to pay their final respects to the Head of State whose reign lasted 70 years.
Mr Hardman records the leadup to the figurehead’s death, claiming that the Queen was prepared for the end, knowing that ill-health would mean that she would not see 2023.
One friend quoted in the book said: "She had come to realise that the medical prognosis meant she was not going to emulate her mother and reach 100, so she had been determined to make the most of that (final) year.
“She made sure she had all the family up over the summer so that the young ones in particular would always be left with happy memories of her."
With the ailing health of the Queen, anxiety gripped the Royal household as officials held secret summits considered making Charles regent in case the Queen was left incapacitated by her condition, according to the book.
A former senior aide quoted in the book shared the optimism that still lingered despite the Queen becoming considerably frail, hoping that a regency would not be needed.
The source said: "With the Queen Mother going on past her 100th birthday, of course we had to think that the Queen would reach the same age. A regency seemed almost inevitable. That would have been very difficult."
The book then divulges the heartbreaking way Charles was informed that his mother was on the precipice of the end of her life, meaning that he was soon to be King.
Charles rushed to Balmoral upon hearing the news and was able to spend time with his mother in her final hours.
The then-Prince had gone out to gather mushrooms on the estate with Camilla while his sister, Princess Anne, remained at the Queen’s bedside.
As Charles drove back, he answered the call that would change everything.
Mr Hardman writes: "Signals can be sketchy in rural Aberdeenshire and staff would usually have phones on silent while in attendance. Finally, one of the party felt their phone vibrating, recognised the number, answered and handed the phone to Sir Clive [Alderton, Charles' principal private secretary).
"He had to ask his boss to pull over and stop. Sir Edward Young [Queen Elizabeth's private secretary] was now on the other end of the phone. The new monarch knew exactly what was coming next. He had just turned off the B976 onto the back drive of the estate when, at the age of 73, he was addressed as 'Your Majesty' for the first time. No further explanation was needed."