UNTIL the very end, Her Majesty the Queen was brilliant, happy and, as throughout her life, devoted.
Informed sources told The Sun how the monarch was “sparkling” and “vibrant” in her final days and weeks, despite her frailty.
And she was absolutely determined to swear in her 15th and final prime minister, Liz Truss.
Just 48 hours before the ‘kissing the hands’ ceremony at Balmoral, the Queen has been told by worried courtiers that she may consider letting Prince Charles carry out his duties instead.
Charles had already stood in for his beloved mother by reading the Queen’s Speech to Parliament.
But when it came to swearing in the new prime minister, she didn’t even consider the change.
She told them all, “Of course I have to, it’s my job.”
She went ahead, spending 40 minutes with outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said the Queen was “brilliant and focused” throughout.
He said it was “unbelievable”, given how obviously sick she was.
Boris – who sources say made the Queen laugh when they last met – said: ‘It was quite an emotional time.
Official photos of the subsequent meeting with Ms Truss showed the Queen very frail and leaning on a cane, but smiling.
Much to the nation’s sadness, two days later the monarch passed away.
SHE WAS IN “SPARKLING” SHAPE AT DINNERS
The Sun learned that in the days leading up to the ceremony, she had been herself and was described as very cheerful at Balmoral lunches and dinners.
Sources have told how the Queen attended dinner parties with guests and family over the weekend and was in ‘sparkling’ and ‘floating’ form.
The only difference was that guests were asked not to dress up for dinner.
Today we also reveal some of the latest photographs of the Queen who was entertained by a pipe band last month – while wrapped up warm under a gazebo in the grounds of Balmoral Castle.
The queen had become more fragile during the month of August and doctors in residence carried out regular checks.
Prince Charles, who became King Charles III, made daily visits there.
Balmoral had been battered by unusual downpours as Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss flew out to meet the Queen.
This almost never happened as hours earlier his role in his final act was in doubt as aides and doctors worried about his health, The Sun said.
Charles politely offered to act as a capable replacement, suggesting she didn’t need to.
But the Queen, who has performed more than 21,000 engagements in her 70s, stepped up to her duty and went to her living room.
Johnson and Truss had been ordered to Balmoral for the ceremony after doctors advised the Queen not to travel south.
The following day, Princess Anne returned to Balmoral to be by her mother’s side, having sailed off the coast of northern Scotland.
The Queen was placed under medical surveillance and forced into a video call with her Privy Council later that day.
Buckingham Palace insisted the Queen simply needed to ‘rest’ after a busy day.
In a moving written tribute after escorting her coffin to Edinburgh, the Princess Royal described how “lucky she was to share the last 24 hours of my dearest mother’s life”.
On Thursday morning, the palace admitted for the first time to being “worried” for the Queen’s health.
As Charles rushed 150 miles from Dumfries House to Balmoral and planes rushed for William, Harry and Andrew, the palace announced the Queen’s death at 6.30pm.
The end came just 48 hours after she performed her last constitutional act for the country she had served tirelessly for seven decades.
Just five days earlier, his Maj enjoyed dinner with close friends and family at Balmoral.
A source told The Sun: “It was unusual because it was very casual. No one was smartly dressed.
“But the Queen was in sparkling form. She was very, very cheerful.
“She was funny, joked. She was floating.
The Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields told the BBC the Queen appeared frail but in “very good spirits” when he dined with her the weekend before her death.
Another source said: ‘No one ever freaked out at Balmoral that weekend. But the doctors were there.
Photographs have emerged of the Queen as she relaxes and enjoys her favorite Canadian pipe band.
She was treated to a private performance by the 80 pipe band The Sons of Scotland Pipe Band from Ottawa.
An image, captured by a guest, shows the monarch gazing intently under a gazebo, flanked by two of her sons, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
Jack Brooksbank, 36, the husband of the Queen’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie, sat in two chairs.
Pipe Major Bethany Bisaillion told how the Queen was “thrilled” by the performance and appeared in high spirits as she performed on August 17.
She said: “She really enjoyed it, she was laughing and smiling and looking great.
“When we got there, she came out the back door of Balmoral and saw me standing there and said, ‘Well, hello again.
“During the performance, she was clapping and having a great time.
“What a privilege it was to be able to play for her at Balmoral, it was our fifth time. She will be greatly missed.”
Bethany said that unlike previous years, the Queen didn’t walk around to meet the band or take them on a tour.
But, she said, Her Majesty was “alert” and “engaged” throughout the 30-minute performance, which featured soulful bagpipe ensembles and dance choreography.