Throughout Queen Elizabeth II’s final days and weeks at Balmoral, they were a near constant presence at her side.
Helping with jigsaw puzzles, delivering her beloved Racing Post and simply keeping her company as she watched television, the late monarch’s closest aides had become indispensable, keeping her spirits up and her mind sharp.
As her body was carried out of Buckingham Palace for the final time on Wednesday, these loyal members of the Queen’s household led the way, guiding her in death as they had in life.
Paul Whybrew, page of the backstairs, and Barry Mitford, the late Queen’s Serjeant-at-Arms, were among ten members of staff who took part in the solemn procession to Westminster Hall.
Mr Whybrew, who at 6ft 4in tall towered over the diminutive monarch and was known as “Tall Paul”, had worked for the Queen for more than 40 years. He was described last week as her favourite courtier.
In 1982, he wrestled intruder Michael Fagan to the ground after he broke into the Queen’s bedroom at Buckingham Palace.
After calming Fagan down, Mr Whybrew is said to have offered him a whisky.
He will be familiar to many as the aide who accompanied the late monarch as she took part in a skit for the 2012 Olympic Games with James Bond actor Daniel Craig.
Mr Mitford was appointed Serjeant-at-Arms to the Queen in 2018 and is also understood to have been with her at Balmoral throughout the summer and in her final days.
Ten members of staff walked together on Wednesday in slow lockstep as they led the ceremonial procession, performing one last duty for “the boss”.
By her side until the very end, they included Sir Edward Young, the late monarch’s private secretary, who took over from Sir Christopher Geidt as her top aide in 2017, and Master of the Horse, Lord de Mauley, a close friend.
Alongside them was Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Johnstone-Burt, the late Queen’s Master of the Household, who had been in post since 2013 and whose department handles official and private entertaining across all the Royal residences.
With a remit spanning hospitality, catering and housekeeping, his team includes everyone from florists and upholsterers to specialist craftspeople and caterers.
The household group was led by Sir Tony, Tim Knox, director of the Royal Collection, and Lt Col Michael Vernon, Comptroller, Lord Chamberlain’s Office.
Lt Col Vernon, who served in the Coldstream Guards and was also an extra equerry to the Queen, became the Comptroller in 2019.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Office, a department which is independent of the Lord Chamberlain, is responsible for drawing up funeral plans years.
Its central office also manages state visits, investitures, garden parties, the State Opening of Parliament, the Garter and Thistle services, ceremonial bodyguards and the crown jewels, as well as also organising royal weddings, funerals and other special events.
Walking behind were Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, and Sir Edward.
Them came Lord de Mauley and the Earl of Dalhousie, Lord Steward of the Royal Household and one of the Queen’s most senior ceremonial officials.
Bringing up the rear were Mr Whybrew, Mr Mitford and a palace steward.