A childhood friend of the Queen has remembered her sense of fun and her love of Norfolk.

Lady Anne Glenconner, who grew up at Holkham Hall, first met Elizabeth II and her younger sister Princess Margaret when their parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth brought them over from Sandringham to play.

Lady Anne, now 90, said: "I was three and the Queen would have been about eight.

"They used to come over from Sandringham. I had a lovely time playing with Princess Margaret, the Queen was more serious.

"Once we were playing in the Marble Hall, which of course we weren't supposed to do, and she told us off.

"She was always a wonderful sister to Princess Margaret, she was devoted to her. She used to look after her."

Lady Anne, nee Coke, was the oldest of three daughters of the 5th Earl of Leicester.

She describes her family as "intertwined with the Royals".

Her mother Lady Elizabeth was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth - the wife of King George VI, who would become the Queen Mother - while her father was an equerry.

Lady Anne would also be invited to parties when the Royals were staying at Sandringham.

"We always found Queen Mary [mother of George VI] very intimidating," she said. "I can remember sitting with Princess Margaret and we were terrified of Punch and Judy, we were looking at it through our fingers," she said.

Later, she recalls dancing in the ballroom of the great house, with its walls festooned with swords and shields.

"We always used to have dancing in the ballroom, it was so much fun," she said.

"The Queen loved dancing, she loved music, and she was a brilliant mimic as well."

The future monarch loved the beach as much as the ballroom, Lady Anne recalls.

"I remember we used to go on the beach at Holkham," she said. "We always used to swim in the sea whatever the weather, they loved the beach."

Later, the Queen would bring Prince Charles and Princess Anne to enjoy the wide Norfolk sands.

Lady Anne, who was a maid of honour at the Coronation in 1953, said the Queen's love of Norfolk continued throughout her reign.

"She loved her dogs and her horses and walking about, she was very relaxed up here," she said.

"People just treated her as a next door neighbour, they didn't make a fuss, that's why she loved it up here."

Elizabeth II may well have inherited her love for the county from her father, King George VI, who adored the Norfolk life.

She became Queen at the age of just 25 on February 6, 1952, when the King passed away in his sleep at Sandringham at the age of 56.

"The late King was a great friend of my father's. He loved being up here for the shooting and all that," said Lady Anne, who still lives in north Norfolk.

"Princess Margaret wrote to me and said it was just such a beautiful morning when they found him. He would have loved to have been out with the geese all flying over.

"It's special, Norfolk, with the big skies, all the birds and being near the sea."

Lady Anne said at first she could not believe the news that the Queen had passed away when it broke on the evening of September 8.

"I was driving down to London and I heard it on the wireless that she was unwell," she said. "Then later, I heard she'd died . I felt very upset.

"She was very frail but we thought she'd go on forever. It was the way she conducted herself, she was always smiling, always calm, one sort of relied on her completely."

Lady Anne remained close to the Royal Family throughout much of the Queen's reign, serving as Princess Margaret's lady-in-waiting from 1971 until the royal's death in 2002. She went on to write a book about her experiences, Lady in Waiting.

As a King who shares his family's love of Norfolk accedes to the throne, she added: "I thought King Charles's address was very moving and he'll be an excellent king - he's had the longest apprenticeship of any monarch."