Queen Elizabeth Was Afraid Of Inconveniencing Her Family During Her Final Moments

Queen Elizabeth was beloved across the globe by many, and in a speech in South Africa for her 21st birthday, she pledged, "My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong." 

She couldn't have known it at the time of that speech, but her life was indeed a long one. Queen Elizabeth made history as the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, a feat that the country celebrated with the Platinum Jubilee, which marked the queen's last Buckingham Palace balcony appearance on June 5, 2022. 

Even in her last days, she put others before herself. In the 2023 BBC documentary "Charles III: The Coronation Year," her daughter Princess Anne said that her mother was considering the impact it would have if she died while in Scotland, "I think there was a moment when she felt that it would be more difficult if she died at Balmoral," her daughter said.

Queen Elizabeth's children didn't want her to worry about being at Balmoral

Princess Anne explained how she and, seemingly, her siblings didn't want Queen Elizabeth to think about the logistics of what would happen if she died in Scotland. "I think we did try and persuade her that that shouldn't be a part of the decision-making process," Anne said in the BBC documentary, "so I hope she felt that was right in the end."

It would surely have been easier in a literal, practical sense if she'd been at Windsor or at Buckingham Palace when she died, considering Queen Elizabeth's state funeral was held at Westminster Abbey in London. But there were plans in place for what would happen if the queen died at Balmoral — it was called Operation Unicorn — and that plan got put into action on September 8, 2022. 

Princess Anne described a bit of the appeal of Balmoral for the whole family, which could explain why the queen might have wanted to spend her last days there. "We always enjoyed being at Balmoral," she said. "A lot of it was probably more independent life than almost anywhere else. That's probably still true. That's a bonus."

Queen Elizabeth loved Balmoral

Queen Elizabeth's love of Balmoral was well-known, and it was indeed a special place for her. Balmoral is where Prince Philip proposed to her. It's where she took her family holidays every summer and where she could relax and enjoy the outdoors away from the public eye. Princess Eugenie described how much Balmoral and Scotland meant for Queen Elizabeth in the documentary "Our Queen at 90," saying: "I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands."

Since she loved the place so much, it seems that it was fitting that when her time came, Queen Elizabeth was able to spend her final days at Balmoral. We're glad that she didn't let the possibility of potentially inconveniencing anyone stop her. Her family has continued the tradition of spending part of their summer in Balmoral, and King Charles III and Queen Camilla marked the one-year anniversary of the queen's death at a church nearby.