The Queen’s best friend reveals their childhoods were filled with ‘ghost stories’ and ‘naughty’ rule-breaking

“The Queen was always wonderful”

Queen Elizabeth II
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The late Queen Elizabeth II’s best friend has revealed that both of their childhoods were filled with ‘ghost stories’ and ‘naughty’ rule-breaking as she looked back on her time growing up with the monarch. 

As people prepare to mark the first anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, her close friend and late sister's lady-in-waiting Lady Anne Glenconner has looked back on the monarch's life and shared some sweet and candid insight into what it was like growing up alongside the Queen. 

From ghost stories to indoor bicycle races, it sounds like the pair, alongside the Queen's late sister Princess Margaret, had a whale of a time despite the royal protocols they had to follow throughout every minute of every day. 

Speaking to OK! Magazine, Lady Anne recalled, “She was such fun. She had a great sense of humour and you loved being with her.

“I was three years old when they [The Queen and Princess Margaret] used to come to Holkham [her home], which is only 10 miles from Sandringham. The Queen Mother would bring Elizabeth and Margaret to visit. The first time I saw them, I hoped that Margaret would become my friend because she was quite naughty, and so was I!"

Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret

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Even from a young age, Lady Anne shared that the Queen was quite 'serious' and always made sure to keep an eye on her younger sibling to make sure she was following the rules. 

She revealed, "The Queen was always wonderful because she was quite a bit older and more serious, but she always had an eye out for her younger sister.

“Margaret and I both had tricycles which we weren’t allowed to ride in the marble hall at Holkham, but of course that was the one thing we wanted to do. There was one time when we were tricycling around the hall and the Queen came down the steps and saw us both, and she said, ‘What are you doing, Margaret? That is very, very naughty.’ And we burst into giggles and went once more around the hall for good measure and then out through a door!”

The royal ladies were always on the look out for mischief and the opportunity presented itself while they were all enjoying a holiday together at Glamis Castle, one of the royals’ Scottish residences.

Lady Anne reminisced, "Margaret was trying to be naughty and scare me by saying, ‘Oh, there’s ghosts here at Glamis – there’s a tongueless woman who dances on the lawn.’

“I was absolutely terrified. But the Queen said, ‘Margaret, don’t frighten Anne. You know we haven’t seen the tongueless woman, it’s only something that we’ve heard about'."

Queen Elizabeth II

(Image credit: The Print Collector/Getty Images)

The childhood friendship continued into adulthood and Lady Anne enjoyed many trips and celebrations with her friend the late Queen, the most momentous being when she was included in the Queen's coronation ceremony. But she was also privvy to some of the Queen's struggles, namely her issues with balancing motherhood and her royal duties. 

Lady Anne said, "Prince Charles and Princess Anne were so small when she became Queen and she just had so much to do. In those days, it took ages to get to countries so she didn’t have a great deal of time to be with her older two. When she was with them she was absolutely marvellous, but the Queen Mother looked after them a great deal.

“It was rather like she had two families, because when she had Andrew and Edward she was able to spend much more time with them. I remember she wrote once or twice saying that it was so lovely to have the chance to really be with her young boys, because with the other two she had to be away so much.”

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.