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Palace in ‘military-style operation’ to prevent Queen looking frail at Prince Philip service


Buckingham Palace is planning a ‘military-style’ operation to get the Queen to Prince Philip‘s memorial service while keeping her out of view from paparazzi, sources have claimed. 

The monarch, 95, is expected to be flown 15 minutes by helicopter from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace for the event, taking place on March 29.

The head of state will then be driven the short distance from the Palace to Westminster Abbey, reports the Sun on Sunday. 

The entire Dean’s Yard will be sealed off under the plans, which also include six-foot privacy screens and a potential football-style tunnel which would block any photographer’s view as she exits her vehicle.

One source told the Mail on Sunday that Her Majesty does not want to be seen in public in a wheelchair over fears of replicating a ‘haunting’ photo taken by her late sister Princess Margaret in the months before her death. 

It comes after the Queen pulled out of the Commonwealth Day service last week over concerns for her ‘comfort’ on the 60-mile trip, and whether she could manage having to sit in Westminster Abbey for more than an hour.  

But she is determined, sources say, to attend the thanksgiving service for the Duke of Edinburgh, who died last April at the age of 99. 

The Queen, 95, is expected to be flown 15 minutes by helicopter from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace for Prince Philip’s thanksgiving service, taking place on March 29.

The Queen is determined, sources say, to attend the thanksgiving service for the Duke of Edinburgh, who died last April at the age of 99. Pictured: Her Majesty and Prince Philip together in Windsor

The Queen is determined, sources say, to attend the thanksgiving service for the Duke of Edinburgh, who died last April at the age of 99. Pictured: Her Majesty and Prince Philip together in Windsor

The Queen wants to walk for as long as possible and has so far ruled out using a wheelchair in public.  

But according to the Sun, the option of assistance has been explored so she can get around The Cloisters, the south and east parts, more rapidly and in comfort. 

Aides then believe she can be delivered into the Abbey at Poets’ Corner and needs only a short walk to take her seat in The Sanctuary.

Whether she can be seated before the audience arrives rather than last, as is tradition, is also being explored. 

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, told the Sun: ‘Understandably, the Queen doesn’t want to be seen in a wheelchair.

‘But as the Head of State and someone who wants to be seen and needs to be seen, she might concede to a wheelchair. The best way of doing that is to make sure there are no photographs taken.

‘This could be a dress rehearsal for everything at the Platinum Jubilee. I think she wants to go as she knows Philip would want her to be there.

‘She will be thinking that if it was her thanksgiving ceremony, he would move Heaven and Earth to make sure he was there.

‘She would really hate to miss it. It is a headache for her staff as it would be difficult for anyone of her age who suffers mobility problems. It would be a painful process for her.’

It comes as a source told the Mail on Sunday how an infamous image of the late Princess Margaret in a wheelchair still haunts the Queen. 

The photograph of her late sister, six months before she died, has become a lasting cause of regret, which the monarch does not wish to replicate.

‘It’s a haunting image and not one the Queen remembers fondly,’ said the source. 

The family had gathered in August 2001 for a photocall for the Queen Mother’s 101st birthday. Although still sprightly, she used two walking sticks. 

The Queen’s sister was inside, recuperating after a series of strokes, and she had not been expected to appear.

But the Queen Mother’s page, William Tallon – nicknamed ‘Backstairs Billy’ – took it upon himself to push Margaret in front of the waiting media in a wheelchair.

Margaret – who was known for glamorous good looks that had lasted well into middle age – had never been seen in such a way.

Wearing a jacket and oversized black sunglasses, the Princess had her left arm trussed up in a sling and a shawl over her legs.

A source who remembers the occasion told the Mail on Sunday: ‘The optics were terrible. 

A photograph of her late sister, Princess Margaret (pictured), in a wheelchair, six months before she died, has become a lasting cause of regret. 'It's a haunting image and not one the Queen remembers fondly,' said a source

A photograph of her late sister, Princess Margaret (pictured), in a wheelchair, six months before she died, has become a lasting cause of regret. ‘It’s a haunting image and not one the Queen remembers fondly,’ said a source

‘It was supposed to be about the Queen Mother but all anyone saw was a sadly declining Princess Margaret.’

Palace staff were furious with Tallon for wheeling her out in full view of the cameras, which they argued was a gross invasion of her privacy.

It is said the Queen still shudders at the memory, with a picture in any way reminiscent of Margaret’s fate said to be out of the question.

The Queen – known as ‘Reader One’ in Government terms – still receives a daily red box of official papers to sign and her Royal Assent is still required on Bills passing through Parliament. (Charles is Reader Two.) 

‘Prince Charles will often stay over at Windsor now if he’s visiting and will spend time with his mother rather than going back to Highgrove,’ said a source. 

Prince William, too, is at Windsor more often, the source said.

The Queen also enjoys the company of her dresser, Angela Kelly, a docker’s daughter from Liverpool known to amuse the head of state with her down-to-earth wit. 



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