The Queen was “frail” but in “good spirits” when PA (Press Association) photographer Jane Barlow took the last public pictures of her.

She had been dispatched to Balmoral to capture the moment when the monarch met the new prime minister, formally appointing Liz Truss to her new role.

While waiting for the Conservative leader to arrive at the Queen’s Highland retreat, Barlow took some portraits.

The Queen met new Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral on Tuesday (Jane Barlow/PA)

In true British style there was small talk about the weather, with dark skies and heavy rain overhead for much of the day.

But Barlow, who has been a staff photographer with PA in Scotland for six years, said of the Queen: “I got a lot of smiles from her.”

Ms Truss was then formally announced and came into the room, “and she greeted her with a big smile”.

With the Queen and the new Prime Minister in conversation, Barlow was ushered out.

But she said since then “I’ve had so many lovely comments about the picture”.

She added: “It’s a real privilege to be able to take that picture, an honour and a privilege. It’s like that for a lot of our job.

“I was there to photograph her meeting the new Prime Minister but for me the best picture was the one of the Queen on her own. And it has obviously become more significant now.”

Speaking about the Queen she said: “She certainly did look more frail than when I photographed her in the summer.

“When she came up for Holyrood Week at the time they were telling me she would do one, perhaps two engagements, but she did quite a lot that week.”

That week saw Barlow photograph the Queen as she had audiences with Nicola Sturgeon and Holyrood Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone, and as she took part in a number of official engagements, including the Ceremony of the Keys, which marks the start of the week of Royal engagements north of the border and the Reddendo Parade, involving the Royal Company of Archers, which functions as the monarch’s ceremonial body guard in Scotland.

The final press picture of the QueenThe Queen — PA

The Queen

Meanwhile, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland agreed the Queen seemed frail but in “really good spirits” when he met her at the weekend.

The Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields spent the weekend at Balmoral and had dinner with the Queen on Saturday and lunch with her on Sunday.

He described the monarch as “fabulous” and “very engaging” company, and said their conversation ranged over a wide array of topics.

And he said he was surprised by the sudden decline in her health and death on Thursday.

The final press picture of the QueenPA

Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields

Recalling his time with the Queen at the weekend, Dr Greenshields told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “She was in great form, really good spirits – obviously frail, you can see that, but absolutely on the ball.

“She was talking about her past, her love for Balmoral, her father, her mother, Prince Philip, horses, very much very engaged with what was happening in the church and what was happening in the nation too.

“This frail lady came in but there was still that sense of who she was and that real sense of making you feel immediately at ease, engaging with you immediately in conversation, a nice bright smile, everything you would expect of your monarch.”

He added: “Her health was frail, we knew that, but when I left her on Sunday she was very positive and I just find it very hard to believe that in those few days things have changed so much.”

The final press picture of the QueenPA

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral was one of the Queen’s favourite places and she was said to never be happier than when staying there.

Dr Greenshields said he thinks she would have been happy to be there for her final days.

He said: “In conversation with her she took me over to the window and she was looking over her gardens with great pride and affection and I think that that’s where she would have wanted to spend her last days and I would think the family are comforted by that.”

The Moderator also said that the Queen took a very strong interest in everything that the Church of Scotland did and that her faith was very obvious.

He said: “She knew and understood exactly what the challenges were that faced the Church, she talked about that very clearly when she was speaking with me over the weekend.

“It was obvious that she knew what she was talking about.”

He added: “She had an incredible respect for people of all faiths, and none of course as well, because she very much saw herself as the Queen who was there for all people.”