Then-outing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Queen was “bright and focused” on Sept. 6
As the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's death approaches, another final milestone of the monarch's life is remembered.
The Queen died at Balmoral Castle at age 96 last Sept. 8, and Wednesday marks one year since her final photos shared with the public were taken. The shots were snapped in the Drawing Room of Balmoral, her royal residence in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where she traditionally retreated for a private vacation each summer.
The pictures were taken on Sept. 6, 2022, capturing what would prove to be the Queen’s final public duty — appointing Liz Truss as prime minister. Photographer Jane Barlow took two solo shots of the monarch, where she stood and smiled before a fireplace.
Festively dressed in tartan, the Queen carried her go-to black handbag and used a cane, perhaps for better balance amid her mobility issues. Queen Elizabeth walked with a cane regularly since October 2021. The same month, she canceled a scheduled trip to Northern Ireland under medical advice from her doctors and spent a night in the hospital on Oct. 20.
Barlow also photographed the Queen shaking hands with Truss, the 15th prime minister of her royal reign, on Sept. 6. Truss’ appointment (which proved to be short-lived) doubled as a royal first, as she became the first premier to be appointed in Scotland instead of England. A source told PEOPLE that the decision was made to host the audience at Balmoral to provide certainty for schedules amid the Queen's mobility issues. Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson also traveled to Scotland for a formal farewell from his post.
While Johnson was photographed shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth’s Equerry Lieutenant Colonel Tom White and her private Secretary Sir Edward Young as he arrived for his audience at the castle, no photos of him with the Queen on Sept. 6 were released to the public. Days after her death, he told the BBC that she was “bright and focused” during what proved to be their final meeting.
"Given how ill she obviously was, how amazing it was that she be so bright and focused. It was a pretty emotional time," the former Conservative Party head said.
On Sept. 7, 2022, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would not preside over a scheduled Privy Council meeting so she could rest.
"After a full day yesterday, Her Majesty has this afternoon accepted doctors' advice to rest," the palace said in a statement. "This means that the Privy Council meeting that had been due to take place this evening will be rearranged."
The Queen was understood to be at Balmoral Castle.
On Sept. 8, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth died "peacefully,” hours after her doctors announced they were “concerned” for her health. Her eldest son and successor immediately acceded her as King Charles, and his wife became styled as Camilla, the Queen Consort, fulfilling the “sincere wish” Queen Elizabeth shared in a message timed to the eve of her 70th Accession Day in February 2022. Courtiers later dropped “consort” from Camilla’s title on the couple’s May 6 coronation day.
According to the BBC, it was thought that Charles’ wife would be known as Queen Consort for the start of the reign to distinguish her from Queen Elizabeth, with the crowning creating an appropriate moment to instate the Queen title.
As the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s death approaches, the royal family is still adjusting to life without their matriarch.
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King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 76, continued Queen Elizabeth's tradition of spending the late summer at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. While a former palace staffer describes the royal residence as having a chance to "leave your crown on the gatepost and put your raincoat on," there's no doubt that the King, Queen and other members of the royal family visiting the estate — including Prince William and Kate Middleton — have bittersweet feeling about this return to the Scottish Highlands.
The former palace staffer tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story, "When [the royals] walk into a room, I'm sure they expect [the Queen] to be there. Balmoral was her favorite place in the world, and now will be the time that they reflect on her loss."
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