Queen's childhood friend Lady Myra Butter dies aged 97

Queen’s childhood friend dies aged 97: Monarch loses loyal confidante Lady Myra Butter – months after descendant of Tsar Nicholas I handed back Pushkin medal awarded to her by Russian state amidst ‘terrible suffering’ in Ukraine

  • Queen, 96, has been left heartbroken by the death of a beloved childhood friend
  • Monarch’s confidante Lady Myra Butter passed away aged 97 on Friday 
  • She also enjoyed a close friendship with Her Majesty’s late husband Prince Philip
  • Previously described the Queen as having a ‘very good sense of humour’  

The Queen is expected to be mourning the death of her devoted  childhood friend Lady Myra Butter, who died last week. 

Lady Butter, who was a descendant of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and the poet Pushkin, passed away on Friday at the age of 97. She died ‘peacefully’ in London, the death notice said.

She was a close friend of the Queen her entire life, having been amoung one of several youngsters enlisted by Buckingham Palace to join the Princess in childhood activities like swimming to girl guiding. 

She previously described the monarch as having ‘very good sense of humour which has gone on for all her life’.  

Lady Butter made headlines earlier this year when she handed back a Pushkin medal on the personal decree of President Putin, which had been awarded to her by the Russian state. 

She had received the award in ‘recognition of her work’ bringing Russian and Scottish schoolchildren together, and encouraging written English in schools. 

The Queen is expected to be mourning the death of her devoted childhood friend Lady Myra Butter, who died last week

Born in Edinburgh in 1925, Lady Butter was born in Edinburgh in 1925 to Sir Harold Wernher, BT, and the great-great granddaughter of Nicholas I, Countess Anastasia “Zia” Torby.

She was perhaps best known for being part of the Queen’s inner circle, and also had a long-standing friendship with her cousin, the late Duke of Edinburgh. 

Speaking to The Telegraph in 2021, she revealed how she got to know the Queen as a child, saying: ‘[Buckingham Palace] They got hold of some girls to be part of the thing to make it more fun.

‘In the Guides and the Brownies it was a real mixture, which was really nice, some friends, friends of [the family], and all the people in the Royal mews, their children, they were Brownies and Guides. Just a normal sort of pack really.’

And Lady Butter was also in the 1st Buckingham Palace Company of Girl Guides with the Queen, when it launched in 1937. The Queen was in the Kingfisher patrol, Lady Butter in Robin. 

Lady Butter remained close to the Queen her entire life, and was also considered to be very close to Prince Philip

Lady Butter previously told DailyMail about the experience, revealing: It was great fun. We learnt how to do Morse code and tie knots.’

She could also remember listening to Edward VIII’s abdication broadcast on the wireless, saying: ‘I thought it was the end of the world. 

‘We haven’t got a king, what’s going to happen now?’

Lady Butter also spoke often about her life experiences alongside the Queen, previously revealing how she was just 14 when WWII broke out.

She said: ‘We were all St John’s cadets in my family: my sister joined, and my mother was county president – she ran everything.

‘Then I went into the local civilian hospital as a probationer nurse for two years, and that was a good experience.

‘I even got paid. We did things that we would never have been allowed to do after the war – tonsils, appendixes, that kind of thing,’ she explained.

Lady Butter was amoung one of several youngsters enlisted by Buckingham Palace to join the Princess in various childhood activities, including swimming to girl guiding (pictured, the Queen as a girl guide) 

And speaking to Tatler in 2020, she said: ‘[For our] social life, we had a few concerts and the local 82nd Airborne Division was stationed near us, so we got to know them, and the local Air Force used to appear. 

‘But really, the only place where there was some- thing going on was at Windsor Castle, because the Girls’ Brigade was stationed there, and their parties were a highlight; if you were lucky enough to get asked to one, you had a really wonderful time. 

‘Everyone came up and everyone danced their heads off. A lot went on, because I think you would have gone crazy if you hadn’t had fun.’ 

The monarch later attended her wedding to the late Major David Butter in Westminster in 1946, with the couple going on to have five children with one another. 

Lady Butter, pictured with Prince Edward and Prince Philip, also had a close friendship with the Duke of Edinburgh 

In 2017, Lady Butter spoke about Prince Philip’s retirement, telling the Mail: ‘He always used to say, quite openly, ‘I’m past my sell-by date’.

‘He was never going to do it before the Queen’s 90th birthday last year – he was always going to be there for her for that. [But] we all felt that this was the moment.’

And last year, she opened up about the Queen’s grief for her husband Prince Philip, telling ITV his dedication to duty meant ‘nobody could have done that job’ as he had done. 

She said: ‘There’s nobody, in my mind, who could have done that job. Nobody. Dedicated to it, and very intelligent and youthful.’

Offering an insight into the Queen’s grief, she said the Duke was ‘the Queen’s world’ and that she would be ‘lost’ without her husband.

In March, The Times revealed Lady Butter had ‘with great regret’ handed back a medal awarded to her by the Russian state amidst the war in Ukraine.

Writing to the consul, Andrey Yakovlev, Butter said: ‘I regarded the medal as such an honour when it came to Scotland in better times. We have always felt our deep roots with our ancestors in Russia and the great friendships received over the past years. However, to witness the terrible suffering taking place now is unbearable. Every human being only wishes to live in a peaceful world and we can only pray that the war will end with the utmost speed.’ 

Lady Butter made headlines earlier this year when she handed back a Pushkin medal on the personal decree of President Putin, which had been awarded to her by the Russian state

Lady Butter’s death comes after the Queen lost a number of close friends in the last 12 months. 

Diana Maxwell, Lady Farnham, who had been the Queen’s Lady of Bedchamber since 1987 and rode with the Queen on the way to her Diamond Jubilee service in 2012, died four days after Christmas aged 90.

Meanwhile Ann Fortune FitzRoy, the Duchess of Grafton, aged 101 in December 2021.

At the time, a royal source told The Telegraph: ‘It has not been a good year for the Queen – losing her husband and then the Duchess of Grafton and now Lady Farnham.

‘They were dear friends who supported the Queen on official duties. Unfortunately a sad consequence of living a long life is that you have to say goodbye to a lot of people you care about.’    

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