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Ann Fortune FitzRoy, the Duchess of Grafton, and patron of the Clarence River Historical Society (far right) photographed during a visit to the Clarence Valley in the 1980’s. Her Grace passed away on December 3, aged 101. Image: Contributed/Clarence River Historical Society

Duchess of Grafton passes away

Emma Pritchard

Ann Fortune FitzRoy, the Duchess of Grafton, has passed away aged 101.

One of Queen Elizabeth II’s closest confidents, the Duchess dedicated more than 60 years of service and friendship to the monarchy.

Her Grace served as Her Majesty’s Mistress of the Robes and was one of the Queen’s senior ladies-in-waiting, accompanying her to many official events including several royal tours overseas.

Born Ann Fortune Smith on February 24, 1920, she married Hugh FitzRoy, the 11th Duke of Grafton in 1946, and had a special connection to Australia through her husband’s family.

The Duchess of Grafton visited the Clarence Valley on a number of occasions and became the patron of the Clarence River Historical Society during the 1980’s.

Her Grace made many contributions to the society’s invaluable collection at Schaeffer House Museum and donated several items through the years.

She previously visited Grafton as a special guest during the jubilee Jacaranda Festival and attended the centenary celebrations of the Grafton Christ Church Cathedral in 1984.

Recently, the Duchess sent a congratulatory message to the Clarence River Historical Society as they celebrated their 90th anniversary last month.

Her Grace reflected on the enjoyment she experienced during her previous visits to Grafton and said she hoped to visit the community again one day.

President of the Clarence River Historical Society Steve Tranter said the Duchess held Grafton and the society in high esteem, and it was sad to hear of her passing.

The Duchess passed away on December 3, three months short of her 102nd birthday.

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