Why the Queen is unlikely to attend her close friend's funeral

The Queen's close friend, Ivor Herbert, died aged 96 last week

Why the Queen probably won't attend her friend's funeral
(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen's close friend has passed away, but's it's unlikely she'll attend the funeral service. 

It was hoped that the New Year would be a fresh start for the Queen after a tumultuous twelve months, but it looks like 2022 has already brought more pain to the grieving widow's doorstep. 

It's no secret that Her Majesty suffered a string of hardships throughout 2021, including ongoing health issues, an alleged Royal Family rift, and, perhaps most tragically, the death of her husband, Prince Philip

To make matters worse, the 95-year-old monarch has had to contend with this emotional turmoil in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic—meaning she hasn't been able to see her loved ones for some much-needed support and company. The Queen even canceled Christmas at Sandringham House amid concerns over rising Omicron rates, marking her second year in a row to miss the royals' traditional festivities. 

Her Majesty has now been hit by another blow, with her close friend, Ivor Herbert, passing away on 5 January.

The devastating loss comes just a few weeks after the Queen suffered heartbreaking grief over the death of her two close friends, the Duchess of Grafton and Lady Farnham. 

Queen and Duchess of Grafton

The Queen's friend, the Duchess of Grafton, died late last year  

(Image credit: Getty)

Herbert, a successful racing journalist and horse trainer, was a longstanding chum of the Head of State and her daughter, Princess Anne. The 96-year-old shared the mother-daughter duo's passion for equestrianism, and even co-wrote the Princess Royal's 1991 autobiography, Riding Through My Life. He also visited the Queen's Scottish residence of Balmoral Castle on multiple occasions, where he most likely enjoyed a spot of horseriding himself. 

However, despite their history, it's unlikely that Her Majesty will attend Herbert's funeral. 

Why is the Queen unlikely to attend her friend's funeral? 

While you'd be forgiven for assuming that the Queen will miss Herbert's funeral due to Covid-19 concerns, the bold decision far predates the global pandemic. 

Her Majesty traditionally does not attend funerals of non-family members, often choosing to send a representative to pay respects on her behalf instead. While exceptions to this rule have been made in the past—the monarch was present at the funerals of former Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher—it has long been observed by the royal matriarch. 


The Queen attends Margaret Thatcher's funeral in 2013 

(Image credit: Getty)

It's believed that the Queen chooses to avoid the poignant events for three reasons, and all of them are fairly reasonable. 

Firstly, her presence at the funeral would warrant a huge amount of security, which could potentially disrupt the service. Her iconic status would also likely stir up a bit of a frenzy, potentially distracting attention from the deceased and their family. Lastly, her decision to attend a funeral could detract from her reputation as an impartial figure—especially if the person who has died was a political figure. 

Her Majesty did, however, attend the funeral of her friend, Annette Wilkin, in May 2019. The 72-year-old, who had worked as the Queen's housekeeper since 1974, was reportedly so close with the monarch that she was even gifted one of her Corgis. 

It's said that the Head of State was left 'deeply upset' by the loss—so much so that she decided to break royal protocol and pay her respects in person. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.