Saturday, December 04, 2021

Fortune, Duchess of Grafton, GCVO 1920-2021

 Fortune, Duchess of Grafton, GCVO, the senior lady courtier of the Queen's Household, Mistress of the Robes to Her Majesty for over 50 years, died 3 December, 2021, aged 101.

The former Ann Fortune Smith, was born 24 February, 1920, scion of the Smith landed gentry family, of Shottesbrooke Park and Ashfold, the only daughter of Capt Evan Cadogan Eric Smith, MC [1894-1950], and his wife the former Beatrice Helen Williams. She was a second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was the granddaughter of Frances Smith, later Countess of Strathmore & Kinghorne.

She married 12 October, 1946, Hugh Denis Charles FitzRoy, styled Earl of Euston [born 3 Apr, 1919], son and heir of the 10th Duke of Grafton [1892-1970], and his 1st wife the former Lady Doreen Maria Josepha Sydney Buxton [1897-1923], daughter of the 1st and last Earl Buxton [1853-1934].

She was appointed a  Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth II in her Coronation year, 1953, and and advanced to the office of Mistress of the Robes in 1967, succeeding Mary, Duchess of Devonshire. As the senior female member of the Royal Household she accompanied Her Majesty on many royal tours, state visits and state occasions. Her 54 year tenure as Mistress of the Robes is perhaps a record.

Her husband succeeded his father as 11th Duke of Grafton, 11 November, 1970, and died 7 April, 2011.

The Duchess of Grafton had issue, James, styled Earl of Euston, and Lord Charles FitzRoy, and three daughters, Lady Henrietta, Lady Virginia and Lady Olivia. Her elder son, Lord Euston, died from cancer, 1 Oct, 2009, and at her husband's death in 2011, the dukedom together with the Earldom of Euston and Viscountcy of Ipswich devolved upon her grandson, Henry, the current 12th Duke of Grafton.

Fortune Grafton was appointed CVO in 1965, advanced to DCVO in 1970, and further advanced to GCVO in 1980. She served as a JP for West Sussex, 1972-90.


No comments: