Margaret Rhodes

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The Honourable
Margaret Rhodes
Margaret Rhodes 2016 BBC.jpg
Rhodes in a 2016 BBC interview
Born Margaret Elphinstone
(1925-06-09)9 June 1925
Westminster, London, England
Died 25 November 2016(2016-11-25) (aged 91)
Windsor, Berkshire, England
Spouse(s) Denys Rhodes
Children 4
Parent(s) Sidney Elphinstone, 16th Lord Elphinstone
Lady Mary Bowes-Lyon

Margaret Rhodes LVO (née Elphinstone; 9 June 1925 – 25 November 2016) was 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[edit]

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] On 20 November 1947, she was a bridesmaid to Princess Elizabeth.[6]


During World War II, she worked as a secretary for MI6.[4][5] She was a Woman of the Bedchamber[7] – 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][11]

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.[12]

On 27 November 2016, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Rhodes had died, aged 91, on 25 November following a short illness.[3][13]

Personal life[edit]

On 31 July 1950, she married the writer Denys Gravenor Rhodes (1919–1981), with Princess Margaret as one of the bridesmaids.[14] The couple had four children and one grandson:[15]

  • 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;[16] married Nicholas Deans in 1974
  • Simon John Gravenor Rhodes (born 22 February 1957), a godson of Princess Margaret;[17] married Susan Simon in 1983
  • 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.[15]


  1. ^ "Margaret Rhodes". Desert Island Discs. 3 June 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Knapton, Sarah (27 November 2016). "Queen's cousin and best friend Margaret Rhodes dies aged 91". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Barry Neild; Nick Glass (5 June 2012). "How Diana's death turned queen into 'proper granny'". CNN. London. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Grice, Elizabeth (13 April 2011). "Margaret Rhodes: The Queen's cousin". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  6. ^ Chen, Joyce (17 July 2013). "I'm "Not Terribly" Excited about Kate Middleton's Baby". US Weekly. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Eating lunch off her lap, the Queen as you've never seen her before". Daily Mail. 12 June 2011. 
  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. 
  9. ^ Amanpour, Christiane (16 July 2013). "The Queen's cousin". CNN. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Queen 'will never quit throne' claims cousin". Scotsman. 19 April 2006. 
  11. ^ English, Rebecca (20 April 2006). "'The Queen will NEVER consider abdicating'". Daily Mail. 
  12. ^ "Margaret Rhodes". BBC Radio 4. 3 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Queen is in mourning after her best friend and beloved cousin Margaret Rhodes dies aged 91". 27 November 2016. 
  14. ^ The Honourable Margaret Rhodes (26 June 2011). "I'm blissfully happy... married to the best and nicest man in the world [Excerpt from The Final Curtsey]". Daily Mail. 
  15. ^ a b Hunt, Peter (November 27, 2016). "Queen's cousin Margaret Rhodes dies". 
  16. ^ "'Nappy and glorious'". Daily Mail. 1 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Royal Godchildren". Yvonne's Royalty Home Page. Retrieved 15 June 2013.