King Charles was 'joyful' at 'lovely' dinner hours before queen's death, Jenna Bush Hager says

·3 min read

Morning show host Jenna Bush Hager said Monday she had a "lovely" dinner with then-Prince Charles the night before Queen Elizabeth II died, adding that she thought that the timing of his mother’s passing was likely a "surprise" to him.

"It was a lovely meal," Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush, said on her show "Today with Hoda & Jenna." The journalist had flown to Scotland to meet with Camilla, then-Duchess of Cornwall, to discuss her book club.

The interview, which had been a year in the planning, was scheduled to happen on Thursday afternoon, just hours before the queen’s death was announced.

Now-Queen Consort Camilla missed dinner with Bush Hager and soon-to-be King Charles III that Wednesday night because the royal’s flight was delayed.

SEE THE MOST HISTORIC ROYAL MOMENTS OF KING CHARLES' ACCESSION AND PUBLIC PROCLAMATIONS

Jenna Bush Hager, right, said her dinner with then-Prince Charles the night before he found out his mother Queen Elizabeth II was ill and died soon after was "joyful." <span class="copyright">Getty </span>
Jenna Bush Hager, right, said her dinner with then-Prince Charles the night before he found out his mother Queen Elizabeth II was ill and died soon after was "joyful." Getty

Bush Hager said Charles told her that his "darling wife was so sad" she couldn’t make it for dinner. "He said she can’t wait to sit down with you tomorrow."

Of the queen’s death, Bush Hager said, "I think it was a surprise, we had a wonderful evening filled with conversation that felt joyful… So I think this was sort of a surprise."

While the crew was setting up for the interview the next day at Dumfries House, about 150 miles south of Balmoral Castle where the queen was, they heard Charles and Camilla’s teams "sort of running up and down the halls" around two hours before she was supposed to meet with Camilla.

Queen Elizabeth II presents Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show on May 18, 2009, in London. <span class="copyright">Sang Tan/WPA Pool/Getty Images</span>
Queen Elizabeth II presents Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show on May 18, 2009, in London. Sang Tan/WPA Pool/Getty Images

"Up until then we had been talking about whether we were going to do the walk and talk inside or outside," she said of the casualness leading up to word of the queen's failing health.

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"We heard noises" and a team member came in and asked the camera crew if they could be "quiet, there’s a call," she said, adding they were near Charles’ office. "They said he’s on a call can you please be quiet."

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Orokonui Ecosanctuary on November 5, 2015 in Dunedin, New Zealand. <span class="copyright">Rob Jefferies/Getty Images</span>
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Orokonui Ecosanctuary on November 5, 2015 in Dunedin, New Zealand. Rob Jefferies/Getty Images

Soon after, they heard a helicopter and someone came in to notify Bush Hager that the interview had been postponed because Charles and Camilla had just left for Balmoral Castle.

"They said the queen is ill and they’ve gone and rushed off to be with her," she said. "We just said our hearts are with them."

She admitted it was a "disappointment because I can’t wait to talk books with her," adding she didn’t know if the interview would still happen. "I think right now their hearts are obviously with their beloved mother, the queen, who has reigned for so many decades and has also been the leader, the matriarch, of their family and held them together for so many years, so our hearts are with them."

She called the experience "living history."

Charles, who became king immediately after his mother died, told Prime Minister Liz Truss last week that her passing was the moment "I've been dreading."