By Emma Ross
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, March 30, 2002; 3:16 PM
LONDON –– The Queen Mother Elizabeth , a symbol of courage and dignity during a tumultuous century of war, social upheaval and royal scandal, died Saturday in her sleep. She was 101 years old.
After years of frailty and ill health, the queen mother
died "peacefully" at Royal Lodge,
Queen Elizabeth II was at her mother's side when she died. The queen mother had rarely been seen in recent months because of her failing health.
The queen mother "had become increasingly frail in
recent weeks following her bad cough and chest infection over Christmas,"
said a palace spokesman, who was not named in keeping with tradition.
and his sons Princes William
devastated" after being informed of the news on their skiing holiday in
The queen mother's body was expected to be moved to the
Royal Chapel of All Saints in
She's like everybody's grandmother," said Sheila
, who left a bunch of flowers at the castle gates.
Prime Minister Tony Blair
said the queen mother was a symbol
"During her long and extraordinary life, her grace, her sense of duty and her remarkable zest for life made her loved and admired by people of all ages and backgrounds, revered within our borders and beyond," he said. Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said the queen mother was "a wonderful queen and an extraordinary person." "Her death is more than a source of grief to the royal family. It is an irreplaceable loss to the whole nation," she said. The queen mother was as popular at the end of her life as she had been a half-century before.
She was best known to younger generations as the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and grandmother of Prince Charles . Remarkably sprightly despite her age, the queen mother was a fixture at royal occasions, delighting in mixing with the public and greeting people who flocked to meet her.
She helped restore confidence in the throne during
unhappiness and scandals in the royal family during the last years of her life,
as three of her four grandchildren divorced. The divorce of Princes Charles
from Princess Diana
and her death in 1997 in a car crash
The unflagging respect for
While admired for her dignity and sense of duty, the queen mother was also revered for enjoying life. She relished horse racing, social gatherings and was known to enjoy a drink.
The queen mother might have been expected to retire from public life when her husband, King George VI , died in 1952. But after their eldest daughter's succession to the throne, she took a new title, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother , and a full load of royal duties, which she carried into her 90s, delighting in meeting people from all walks of life.
The former Lady