Margaret Rhodes

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The Honourable
Margaret Rhodes
Born Margaret Elphinstone
(1925-06-09)9 June 1925
Westminster, London, England
Died 25 November 2016(2016-11-25) (aged 91)
Windsor, Berkshire, England
Nationality British
Occupation Woman of the bedchamber
Employer The Queen Mother (1991–2002)
Spouse(s) Denys Rhodes (m. 1950; d. 1981)
Children 4
Relatives Elizabeth II (first cousin)

Margaret Rhodes LVO (née Elphinstone; 9 June 1925 – 25 November 2016) was a British aristocrat and a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. From 1991 to 2002, she served as Woman of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Early life and education

Born Margaret Elphinstone in Westminster, London, Rhodes was the youngest daughter of the 16th Lord Elphinstone and his wife, Lady Mary Bowes-Lyon, an elder sister of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.[2][3] Less than a year older than the future queen, she was a frequent playmate of the young Princess Elizabeth.[4] During the Second World War she lived at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, and took a secretarial course.[5][6] On 20 November 1947, she was a bridesmaid to Princess Elizabeth at her wedding to Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh.[7]


During World War II, she worked as a secretary for MI6.[4][5][6] She was a Woman of the Bedchamber – a mix of lady-in-waiting and companion – to her aunt, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, from 1991 until the latter's death in 2002.[8]

In the 2000 Birthday Honours Rhodes was appointed Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO). She lived in the Garden House, a grace and favour residence in Windsor Great Park.[9] In the run-up to the Queen's 80th birthday in April 2006, Rhodes gave an interview to the BBC in which she stated her belief that the Queen would not abdicate.[10]

Her autobiography, The Final Curtsey, was published in 2011.[5] She was the castaway on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 3 June 2012.[11]

Rhodes appeared in seven documentaries about her first cousin Queen Elizabeth II.[12]

On 27 November 2016, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Rhodes had died, aged 91, on 25 November following a short illness.[3] Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh attended her funeral in the Royal Chapel of All Saints, Windsor Great Park, on 12 December 2016, accompanied by the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Princess Alexandra, The Hon Lady Ogilvy.[13]

Personal life

On 31 July 1950, she married the writer Denys Gravenor Rhodes (1919–1981), with Princess Margaret as one of the bridesmaids.[citation needed] The couple had four children and one grandson:[14]

  • Annabel Margaret Rhodes (born 21 February 1952); she married Christopher James Downing Strickland-Skailes in 1978. They have one son. She remarried (Geoffrey Vallack) Charles Cope in 1986
    • Andrew James Downing Strickland-Skailes (born 1980)
  • Victoria Ann Rhodes (born 27 September 1953), a goddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II; married Nicholas Deans in 1974
  • Simon John Gravenor Rhodes (born 22 February 1957), a godson of Princess Margaret;[15] married Susan Simon in 1983. Mrs. Simon Rhodes was appointed an extra Lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II in July 2017.[16]
  • Michael Andrew Gravenor Rhodes (born 8 June 1960)


Having been a first cousin to Elizabeth II, Rhodes shared half her ancestry with the Queen, including several notable peers.[14]

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  1. "Margaret Rhodes". Desert Island Discs. 3 June 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 28 November 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Knapton, Sarah (27 November 2016). "Queen's cousin and best friend Margaret Rhodes dies aged 91". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 November 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Barry Neild; Nick Glass (5 June 2012). "How Diana's death turned queen into 'proper granny'". London: CNN. Retrieved 16 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Grice, Elizabeth (13 April 2011). "Margaret Rhodes: The Queen's cousin". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 November 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Brandreth, Gyles (2005). Philip & Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage (First American ed.). New York: W.W. Norton.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Chen, Joyce (17 July 2013). "I'm "Not Terribly" Excited about Kate Middleton's Baby". US Weekly. Retrieved 16 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Who's Who Behind the Palace Walls: The Ladies in waiting of Royalty". The Royal Fanzine. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Amanpour, Christiane (16 July 2013). "The Queen's cousin". CNN. Retrieved 16 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Queen 'will never quit throne' claims cousin". The Scotsman. 19 April 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Margaret Rhodes". BBC Radio 4. 3 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Margaret Rhodes at the Internet Movie Database
  13. Court Circular, 12 December 2016
  14. 14.0 14.1 Hunt, Peter (27 November 2016). "Queen's cousin Margaret Rhodes dies".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Royal Godchildren". Yvonne's Royalty Home Page. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Appendix to the Court Circular, 13 July 2017