Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh really stepped up and offered an extra level of maternal support for Prince George and Princess Charlotte at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Duchess enjoyed a very close bond with the late Queen – Britain’s longest-serving monarch who served for a historic 70 years before her death in September 2022 – and losing her mother-in-law was hard for her to take.
In the days following the Queen’s death, Sophie was often seen in tears while out and about, greeting well-wishers and observing the many tributes left at the royal palaces.
However, the caring royal put aside her own grief and made sure she was there to lend her support to Prince George and Princess Charlotte when it came to the state funeral.
One of the biggest events in modern history, 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries from all across the world were present at the funeral, which was attended by 2,000 people in total.
Perhaps anticipating the overwhelming nature of the day for the youngsters – George was just nine and Charlotte was seven when they joined the historic procession and funeral at Westminster Abbey – Sophie made sure to be nearby. Prince Louis was only four at the time of the funeral and did not attend.
While the two young royals had their parents – Prince William and Kate - on hand to support, having great-aunt Sophie to throw her arm around them must have been comforting.
Perhaps because the focus was on the historic and poignant details of the day, the subtle moments of maternal support from Sophie went unnoticed by many. But a deeper look at photos from the day show that Sophie wasn’t afraid to do away with formalities and throw her arm around Prince George while walking into the abbey.
Sweet photos also show a timid looking Princess Charlotte turning her body into her great-aunt, clearly comforted by her presence and feeling protected by tucking herself firmly at her side.
It’s just another example of the compassionate nature of the Duchess of Edinburgh which many fans have long admired – and which helped cement her importance in the family after previously taking more of a backseat role.
After the death of Prince Philip, it was Sophie’s warmth and empathy which became a "soothing" comfort to the late Queen Elizabeth, who reportedly came to rely on her daughter-in-law for strength and support.
Of their close bond over the years, a former royal equerry once claimed, “If Sophie was staying at Sandringham then you can pretty much guarantee the Queen would ask her - usually last thing on a Saturday night - if she would like ‘a lift’ to the church. And the same happened at Balmoral. The Queen liked to be completely calm before church and she found Sophie’s presence soothing.”