Rose Gwendolen Louisa McDonnell, courtier: born London 23 May 1909; Woman of the Bedchamber to the Queen 1953-73 (Extra Woman of the Bedchamber 1973-93); CVO 1964, DCVO 1972; married 1933 Francis Baring (died 1940; two sons, one daughter); died Swindon 2 November 1993.
MANY people in all walks of life will feel the death of Rose Baring, for 20 years a Woman of the Bedchamber to the Queen, as a deep personal loss.
Close-knit family relationships dominated her early years, with a circle formed by her sister and two brothers and a multitude of cousins. From her father, the 12th Earl of Antrim, she acquired a deep love of the countryside and of Northern Ireland, where his family had its roots. Marriage in 1933 to a young merchant banker, Francis Baring, opened up a new range of interests, among which were music and foreign travel. Her husband's postings to Liverpool, Buenos Aires and New York gave her a taste for people and places far removed from her early life, a characteristic which was to be reflected in her later travels in attendance on the Queen.
The outbreak of the Second World War, evacuation from London and the tragically early loss of her husband, who died of wounds in the retreat to Dunkirk, left her with the need to create a home in Surrey for herself and her three young children, and until the war ended, her elderly father-in-law. To this task she dedicated herself whole-heartedly, without losing any of her ability to enjoy life. At the end of the war, brief spells in Gloucestershire and in London were succeeded by a return to Surrey, where a farmhouse, surrounded by a beautiful garden, provided a setting in which all generations, particularly that of her children, found a ready welcome.
Her appointment in 1953 as a Woman of the Bedchamber to the Queen gave her the opportunity to combine her strong sense of duty with a completely natural talent for putting others at ease, and a long- lasting interest in public life. Her move in the late Fifties to the charming house in a Kensington square which was to be her home for the rest of her life made possible a greater involvement in voluntary activity. She will be remembered especially for her roles as chairman of the Fellowship of St Michael and All Angels (a home for unmarried mothers in South London), and of Barnardo's Adoption Committee.
Rose Baring's life embraced all sorts and conditions of men and women. When one thinks of Rose, one thinks above all of her power of loving, and of her humour. Whether in attendance on the Queen, or as a mother or grandmother, or simply as a friend, her influence was immense and always for the general good. No one who knew her will forget that wonderful laugh, and her interest in every kind of incident and problem. Her religion was all-important to her throughout her life. She will be remembered as a giver who never failed, as a friend and supporter to all, and as a splendid example of what sheer goodness can achieve in this often troubled world.
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