We are greatly saddened to learn that Dame Anne Griffiths, DCVO (Stevenson, SRE 1946-1950), former Chairman of SLSS London Centre, has died on 3 March. A Service of Thanksgiving is being held at St Mark's Church, Regents Park at 3pm on Tuesday 2 May.
The following Tribute to Dame Anne Griffiths, DCVO, has been written by Mary Vavra (Raine), current Chairman of SLSS London Centre:
Dame Anne Griffiths, DCVO (Stevenson SRE 1946-1950) for many years Chairman of the London Seniors, and librarian and archivist to Prince Philip, died on March 3 at her home in London. She was 84. Dame Anne, who had worked for the Prince for more than 40 years, and become one of his most trusted aides, was one of the most illustrious Seniors of her generation. She joined Prince Philip's staff as a ‘Lady Clerk’ in 1952 when she was just 19. It was shortly after King George Vl's death and additional temporary staff were taken on to help with extra work caused by the Coronation. Anne, however, stayed at the Palace until she got married in 1960. Prince Philip called her back in 1983 not long after the death of her husband and put her in charge of his private archive - books, photos, gifts he received and family papers and gave her an office next to his private sitting room.
When journalists, authors and anyone else wanted information regarding the Prince, it was Anne would would deal with their enquiries. One journalist who made a programme about Prince Philip a few years ago described Dame Anne as ‘an old school royal servant - terribly charming but as tough as steel. She would not let us near his stuff.’ Dame Anne worked two or three days a week at the Palace until a short time ago when she became unwell. The Queen recognised her loyalty and dedication and made her a Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in June 2005. The honour of DCVO is an honour in the gift of the Queen on someone for distinguished personal service to the Monarch or one of the Royal Family.
Dame Anne's death came almost a year to the day she stepped down as Chairman of the London Seniors - a position she had held for 40 years. At their biennial lunch in the Caledonian Club on March 4 last year, London Seniors presented Dame Anne, a great golf and sports fan, with a print of the famous Road Hole on the Old Course at St Andrews, and Michael Carslaw, Headmaster of St Leonards, presented her with an original silver brooch from Miss Dove’s collection.
Dame Anne always retained a strong affection for St Leonards and an interest in developments at the school. ‘It's completely different from what it was like in our day’ she used to say. Not as an expression of disapproval but recognition that St Leonards had adapted and moved with the times. She was proud to be associated with what was being described as Scotland's leading independent school. As Chairman of the London Centre, she made a point of involving Seniors of all ages in meetings. She valued links with younger Seniors. Her hospitality was legendary. Many a Senior meeting ended up with lasagne at her house near Regents Park. Dame Anne also made a point of keeping in touch with other Senior Centres, travelling to Edinburgh and St Andrews and putting forward suggestions for how Seniors could best operate.
She was a wonderful lady and a great inspiration - it is hard to imagine a London Senior gathering without her. She simply embodied the best of St Leonards.