Royals attend Service of Thanksgiving for Queen’s cousin and close friend Lady Elizabeth Shakerley


Royals remember the Queen’s party planner: Sophie Wessex and Fergie join stars such as Joanna Lumley at Service of Thanksgiving for Her Majesty’s cousin Lady Elizabeth Shakerley, who died aged 79

  • Queen’s cousin and friend Lady Elizabeth Shakerley died in November 2020 
  • Born in Windsor she was responsible for arranging many of her private parties 
  • She was daughter of Thomas Anson, Viscount Anson and Anne Bowes-Lyon
  • Royals including Sophie Wessex and Fergie attended the London memorial 

Royals including Sophie Wessex and Sarah Ferguson have been photographed attending the London memorial of Lady Elizabeth Shakerley today. 

Lady Elizabeth, who died in November 2020 aged 79, was the cousin of the Queen as well as a close friend.

She was best known for organising royal parties, including an event held ahead of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011.

Today a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of her Majesty’s cousin, who was more widely known in her professional capacity as Lady Elizabeth Anson, was held at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster.

Thanks to her prominence in royal circles, numerous high profile guests were pictured attending the event, including Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent. 

Sophie Wessex, 57, was among the people who attended the service for Lady Elizabeth Shakerley CVO in Westminster today

Sophie Wessex, 57, was among the people who attended the service for Lady Elizabeth Shakerley CVO in Westminster today 

The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, 62, also attended the service

She put on an animate display on her way to St Margaret's Church

The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, 62, also attended the service and put on an animate display on her way to St Margaret’s Church

Lady Gabriella Windsor wore an all blue ensemble with a light blue hat and a white clutch bag she paired with velvet heels

Lady Gabriella Windsor wore an all blue ensemble with a light blue hat and a white clutch bag she paired with velvet heels 

Dame Joanna Lumley wore a black skirt and top underneath a black vest with a matching fascinator for the service

Dame Joanna Lumley wore a black skirt and top underneath a black vest with a matching fascinator for the service  

Made in Chelsea's star Olivia Bentley was spotted outside of the church in a leopard print dress

Made in Chelsea’s star Olivia Bentley was spotted outside of the church in a leopard print dress 

Lady Gabriella Windsor, Dame Joanna Lumley, Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra were also spotted at the service.

However, her Majesty was not seen, amid ongoing health issues related to her mobility struggles. 

Lady Shakerley was the daughter of Thomas Anson, Viscount Anson, and Anne Bowes-Lyon, who became Princess Anne of Denmark when she remarried.

Born in Windsor Castle in 1941, she served as the Queen’s party planner since 1960 and has organised a number of royal soirees, including an event held ahead of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011.   

She died in the early hours of November 1st, with members of her family at her bedside.

Her death came just months after the Queen made her a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order as a sign of her personal esteem, according to the Court Circular.

In April, the entry in the Court Circular read: ‘The Lady Elizabeth Shakerley has been appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by The Queen today and has received the Insignia.’ 

As well as family members it includes members of the royal household and senior diplomatic figures. 

After founding the firm Party Planners in 1960, Lady Elizabeth and went on to arrange events for numerous members of the royal households, as well as the Queen’s most high-profile occasions, including her 90th birthday. 

The Duchess of Gloucester also attended in a black floral dress she paired with a black hat and a red clutch

The Duchess of Gloucester also attended in a black floral dress she paired with a black hat and a red clutch 

The Countess of Wessex looked elegant in a green dress, which she paired with a green clutch bag and a black hat

The Countess of Wessex looked elegant in a green dress, which she paired with a green clutch bag and a black hat 

Awards in the Royal Victorian Order are made by the Queen to people who have served her or the Monarchy in a personal way.

Princess Alexandra opted for a dotted navy dress and a white and navy blue hat for the service

Princess Alexandra opted for a dotted navy dress and a white and navy blue hat for the service  

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy also made her way to the event in central London today

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy also made her way to the event in central London today

Lady Gabriella attended the service with her husband Lord Frederick Windsor, who was wearing a dapper navy suit

Lady Gabriella attended the service with her husband Lord Frederick Windsor, who was wearing a dapper navy suit

Lady Elizabeth had previously spoken fondly of her friend, and said a large selections of cakes had been baked by the public for the event and transported to Windsor Castle.

She said: ‘The lovely thing about her, nothing goes to waste.

‘So there are all these lovely cakes and when she has a private party… the cakes are there to eat with your coffee – us Scots don’t believe in waste.’

In the same interview in 2016, Lady Elizabeth remembered a ‘discotheque’ she staged for a teenage Charles and his sister, the Princess Royal, in the 1960s.

She described her scepticism over hiring a DJ and said: ‘This man (wanted) to charge me £25 to put on gramophone records?

‘It took me quite a few years to realise it’s a great art form.’

Sophie Wessex and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were seen talking to the church officials after the ceremony

Sophie Wessex and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were seen talking to the church officials after the ceremony 

Mother-of-two Sophie looked very elegant in her green number, while Princess Michael of Kent was timeless in a grey ensemble

Mother-of-two Sophie looked very elegant in her green number, while Princess Michael of Kent was timeless in a grey ensemble 

Guests wore colourful outfits, including this couple who both wore blue to the St Margaret's Church service

Guests wore colourful outfits, including this couple who both wore blue to the St Margaret’s Church service 

Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands also travelled to London to pay her respect to Lady Elizabeth

Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands also travelled to London to pay her respect to Lady Elizabeth

The Countess of Wessex attended the service without Prince Edward

She was seen talking to several other guests after the service

The Countess of Wessex attended the service without Prince Edward. She was seen talking to several other guests 

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent made a striking pair at the service, him in blue and she in grey

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent made a striking pair at the service, him in blue and she in grey 

The Countess of Wessex and Princess Michael of Kent seemed to have a pleasant conversation with church officials

The Countess of Wessex and Princess Michael of Kent seemed to have a pleasant conversation with church officials 

Lsdy Gabriella, who looked very stylish in her blue dress, was seen in great conversation with several other guests

Lsdy Gabriella, who looked very stylish in her blue dress, was seen in great conversation with several other guests 

Lady Elizabeth also arranged events for other high profile clients including Sir Mick Jagger and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Her other notable events include Margaret Thatcher’s 70th birthday party, a reception for foreign royals before the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel and Sting’s wedding.

Lady Elizabeth, who is the sister of late society photographer Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield, married Sir Geoffrey Shakerley at Westminster Abbey in July 1972.   

Dame Joanna was seen smiling as she made her way to the service in central London this afternoon

Dame Joanna was seen smiling as she made her way to the service in central London this afternoon

Princess Beatrix travelled all the way from the Netherlands to attend the emotional London service

Princess Beatrix travelled all the way from the Netherlands to attend the emotional London service 

The Countess of Wessex and Princess Michael warmly greeted each other on their way of the church

The Countess of Wessex and Princess Michael warmly greeted each other on their way of the church

Guests included the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, while Princess Anne served as a bridesmaid.

Sir Geoffrey and Lady Elizabeth had one daughter, Lady Fiona, before divorcing in 2009. 

She has been praised for her discreet approach to handling her cousin’s social occasions through her company, Party Planners. 

However in a rare interview with Tatler magazine in 2012 she offered some insight into the Queen’s tastes.

She said: ‘For years it was believed that the Queen loved only yellow freesia. They appeared on every table decoration. Until I offered her an alternative and we discovered that she loved all sorts of blooms, from peonies to white roses.

She added: ‘The Queen is the most meticulous host. She checks every dining-room setting, every flower, every guest bedroom and always chooses her own menu. We could all learn something from that.’ 

Princess Beatrix travelled all the way from the Netherlands to attend the emotional London service

The Dutch royal wore navy for the occasion

Princess Beatrix travelled all the way from the Netherlands to attend the emotional London service. She wore navy for the occasion

Princess Michael of Kent sported a pensive expression as he arrived in Westminster this afternoon

Princess Michael of Kent sported a pensive expression as he arrived in Westminster this afternoon 

One of the guests who was seen chatting to Princess Alexandra wore an all-blue ensemble with ballet flats

One of the guests who was seen chatting to Princess Alexandra wore an all-blue ensemble with ballet flats 

Guests in floral dresses were seen making their way to the central London church to say one last goodbye to Lady Elizabeth

Guests in floral dresses were seen making their way to the central London church to say one last goodbye to Lady Elizabeth

Lord Frederick Windsor was seen chatting to an acquaintance on his way into the church earlier today

Lord Frederick Windsor was seen chatting to an acquaintance on his way into the church earlier today 

Lady Elizabeth Shakerley's daughter Fiona attended the service with her husband and their two children

Lady Elizabeth Shakerley’s daughter Fiona attended the service with her husband and their two children 

An elegant elderly couple were spotted guided their grandchild to the service. The woman wore a stylish shawl with a grey hat

An elegant elderly couple were spotted guided their grandchild to the service. The woman wore a stylish shawl with a grey hat 

A man in a grey suit and sunglasses led his glamourous wife and their teenage children to the church

A man in a grey suit and sunglasses led his glamourous wife and their teenage children to the church

A mother-daughter duo wearing black and white ensembles made their way to the church with the other guests

A mother-daughter duo wearing black and white ensembles made their way to the church with the other guests 

Fergie was guided to the service by another guest who was also seen with a programme of the service

Fergie was guided to the service by another guest who was also seen with a programme of the service 

Fergie was guided to the service by another guest who was also seen with a programme of the service

Dressed in a black dress and a gold jacket, Sarah Ferguson was seen clutching her programme this afternoon

Dressed in a black dress and a gold jacket, Sarah Ferguson was seen clutching her programme this afternoon

Paul O'Grady was spotted as he entered the church with other guests for today's memorial service

Paul O’Grady was spotted as he entered the church with other guests for today’s memorial service 

Princess Michael of Kent wore a pearl grey woolen ensemble with a matching bow in her hair and a small leather handbag

Princess Michael of Kent wore a pearl grey woolen ensemble with a matching bow in her hair and a small leather handbag 

Fergie was guided to the service by another guest who was also seen with a programme of the service

Dressed in a black dress and a gold jacket, Sarah Ferguson was seen clutching her programme this afternoon

Dressed in a black dress and a gold jacket, Sarah Ferguson was seen clutching her programme this afternoon

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