Richard E Grant reveals wife died of lung cancer – eight months after stage four diagnosis

Richard E Grant’s wife Joan Washington was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer eight months before her death, the actor has revealed. 

The 64-year-old, known for films including Withnail and I and The Age of Innocence, announced Washington had died last week.

Writing in the Daily Mail about their life together, Grant said: “It’s an extraordinary phenomenon to be truly ‘seen’ and ‘known’ by another human, and in Joan, I found someone who innately did both.

“To have loved one another for almost four decades has been the ride of my lifetime.”

On 3 September he revealed his wife’s death, sharing a video of the pair dancing together to the song Only You.

They married in 1986 and share a daughter, Olivia, and a stepson, Tom, from Washington’s previous relationship.

He said: “Since her stage four lung cancer diagnosis two days before Christmas, she was accepting, clear sighted, sanguine and totally without self pity.”

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He praised the oncology team at the Royal Marsden Hospital, NHS nurses, Price’s Mill Surgery and Longfield palliative carers from their “beyond exemplary” work.

He continued: “It’s been my privilege to be by your side, sharing our last eight months together, enabling us to say everything we possibly wanted and needed to, so that when you asked Olivia and me two weeks ago ‘to let me go’, we unequivocally said ‘yes’.”

He revealed the Prince of Wales had visited Washington, who he affectionately referred to as The Colonel, shortly before she died.

He said: “Prince Charles came to see ‘The Colonel’ last month, sat beside her, took her hand and said, ‘It’s been an absolute honour to have known you, Joan’ to which she instantly quipped, ‘I’m still here.’ Which broke the ice and made all three of us cackle.

“Astonishingly, unlike me, she’s never been star struck and possessed the innate gift of speaking to everyone of any age or status as her equal.”

The couple met when Washington agreed to give Grant private voice lessons in 1982.

The following January, she asked him to dinner in exchange for putting a script on tape for an RSC production she was voice coaching on.

Grant wrote: “Joan and I continued eating and yakking and I somehow managed to miss the midnight Tube back to my bedsit in Notting Hill from Richmond and so began our conversation which continued and lasted 38 years long, finally ending at 7.30 last Thursday evening, holding each other’s hands, telling her how much I loved her.

“Unaware that her next inhalation would be her earthly last.”

He added: “Our loss is incalculable. Your love is immeasurable.

“The depth of our grief is mirrored by the magnitude of our love.

“Goodbye Monkee-mine.

“Do not forget us.”

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