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Sunday, 31 March, 2002, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
Last moments of a much-loved lady
Royal Lodge, the Queen Mother's Windsor residence
The Queen Mother died at Windsor's Royal Lodge
The Queen Mother died peacefully surrounded by those she loved after weeks of becoming frailer and frailer.

After speaking to those who were close to her in the final days, BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond said everybody had known the fightback from the chest infection she got at Christmas was going to be a very long haul.

In fact her health had deteriorated since November, when she made her last major public appearance.

Recently the Queen Mother had been getting frailer by the day and in the last few days before her death she had become very breathless.

She had not been eating anything much more substantial than soup for some weeks.

On Saturday morning doctors were called but she was still able to talk and was lying in a large armchair, speaking to close members of her family.

Hands held

At one point she asked the Queen not to stay, Jennie Bond said, perhaps because she knew at that stage that her life was ebbing away.

The Queen did return at 1445 GMT and it was with her daughter, other close members of her family and a clergyman at her side that the Queen Mother died, in her sleep, around half an hour later.

Relatives including the Queen were holding her hands and she died very peacefully, a peace apparently reflected on her face.

Somebody who saw her before her body was placed in the coffin said she was dressed very beautifully, wearing pearls and earrings.

Jennie Bond said the Queen Mother probably did have a sense she might be about to die.

Started reminiscing

She had become rather reclusive, something which was uncharacteristic of her, in the last few weeks.

Those that she saw said she had begun to reminisce a great deal.

She wanted to talk about the past, particularly about the late Princess Margaret, her daughter.

On the day before she died she even handed out a number of small presents to very close members of her family.


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