A beaming Queen made a surprise visit to Paddington Station today to see the completed Elizabeth Line with her son Prince Edward – days after cancelling her appearance at the State Opening of Parliament due to ‘mobility issues’.
The 96-year-old, who now rarely carries out public engagements outside of her royal residences and was carrying a walking cane, picked up a limited edition Elizabeth Line Oyster card. She then topped it up with a £5 note as Crossrail workers told her how to work the ticket machine.
The monarch was dressed in a Stewart Parvin double-wool crepe coat in sunshine yellow worn with an A-line silk dress in shades of yellow, royal blue and turquoise, and a matching hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan. She also wore her Singapore brooch.
Her attendance was not publicly announced in advance, with the head of state facing ongoing mobility problems, but organisers were told there was a possibility she might be able to attend. She walked slowly as she made her way around the station concourse.
But in a major clue an hour and a quarter before Edward was due to arrive, Transport for London removed a plaque saying he had opened Crossrail and replaced it with one eight inches lower bearing the Queen’s name.
Following the Queen’s visit, Boris Johnson told the invited guests: ‘We’re all incredibly touched and moved and grateful to her Majesty for coming to open the Elizabeth line today. It was fantastic to see her.’
Prince Edward took a return journey from Paddington to Tottenham Court Road. He was invited to stand in the driver’s cab during the second leg of the journey. He chatted with driver Carinne Spinola as the train moved, telling her it was ‘brilliant’.
After stepping off the train at Paddington, the Earl of Wessex said: ‘That was brilliant. I did enjoy that. It was good fun.’
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Queen Elizabeth II at Paddington station in London, to mark the completion of London’s Crossrail project, which will be known as the Elizabeth Line
The Queen, who now rarely carries out public engagements outside of her royal residences and was carrying a walking cane, picked up a limited edition Elizabeth Line Oyster card before staff showed her how to top it up with £5
The Queen does not usually carry cash, although she makes an exception on Sundays so she can donate during church services
In a major clue an hour before Edward was due to arrive, Transport for London removed a plaque saying he had opened Crossrail and replaced it with one eight inches lower bearing the Queen’s name
The Queen walked slowly as she made her way around the station concourse with Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford (left) and Prince Edward (right)
The Queen, who was using a walking stick, smiled warmly as she met Crossrail and Elizabeth line workers
Dressed in sunshine yellow, the Queen arrived at 11.32am, stepping carefully from the transparent lift while holding a walking stick
The Elizabeth line, named in honour of the Queen (who is pictured today), will open to passengers on May 24
The Queen with Edward, the Earl of Wessex, during the opening of the Elizabeth Line at Paddington Station today
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan riding the Elizabeth Line today
Mr Shapps recently referred Mr Khan to the Electoral Commission for revealing the start date of the new Crossrail commuter line on the eve of local elections, making the photo op especially awkward
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: ‘In a happy development, Her Majesty The Queen is attending today’s event to mark the completion of the Elizabeth line.
‘Her Majesty was aware of the engagement and the organisers were informed of the possibility she may attend.’
The Queen rallied to make a trip to the Windsor Horse Show on Friday and on Sunday was the guest of honour at the equestrian extravaganza A Gallop Through History near Windsor, the first major event of the Jubilee festivities.
The nation’s longest reigning head of state is just over two weeks away from her Platinum Jubilee celebratory weekend
Following the Queen’s visit, Boris Johnson told the invited guests: ‘We’re all incredibly touched and moved and grateful to her Majesty for coming to open the Elizabeth line today. It was fantastic to see her’
But today’s engagement is the Queen’s first one outside of the Windsor area since she attended the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service in Westminster Abbey seven weeks ago.
The Queen and Edward were being welcomed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford.
They were meeting staff who have been key to the project and who will run the railway, including train drivers, station staff and apprentices.
On Sunday the Queen was the guest of honour at the equestrian extravaganza A Gallop Through History near Windsor, the first major event of the Jubilee festivities
Transport for London released this new map this morning showing how the initial Crossrail services will operate from May 24
The Elizabeth line, named in honour of the Queen, will open to passengers on May 24.
Crossrail, the project to build the new east-west railway, was delayed and over budget due to numerous issues including construction difficulties and complications installing signalling systems.
It was due to be completed in December 2018 and was set a budget of £14.8 billion in 2010.
The total cost has been estimated at £18.9 billion, including £5.1 billion from the Government.
The Elizabeth line will boost capacity and cut journey times for travel across the capital.
It will stretch from Reading, in Berkshire, and Heathrow Airport, in west London, to Shenfield, in Essex, and Abbey Wood, in south-east London.
Trains will initially operate in three sections, which are expected to be integrated in the autumn.