The Queen made an unexpected appearance at the opening of the Elizabeth line today, accompanying her youngest son, The Earl of Wessex.
The Monarch, 96, last week missed the State Opening of Parliament due to ‘episodic mobility issues’ but had regained strength enough for the Royal Windsor Horse Show in the tail end of the week.
Her Majesty, in sunny yellow, headed to Paddington Station with Prince Edward and unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion. The line is, of course, named in her honour.
She was using a walking stick, but able to get around. The decision was understood to have been made last-minute, with the Monarch travelling from her now-permanent base at Windsor Castle.
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, wearing her Singapore filigree brooch, and the Earl met with staff who have been key to the Crossrail project, as well as Elizabeth line staff who will be running the railway – including apprentices, drivers, and station staff.
At Paddington, the new Elizabeth line contributes to the transformation of the area and complements the station building created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1854.
42km of new rail tunnels, which cross the River Thames three times, were created for the new transport route, and 10 new stations. It serves Reading and Heathrow to the west, through central London and the likes of Bond Street and Liverpool Street, and out to Shenfield, Essex, in the east.
Possibly for the first time in her reign, The Queen used an Oyster card! She asked if the contactless Oyster card was how people usually accessed the Underground, and shown the process for adding money to the card.
Hers was a special commemorative edition. Querying ‘Where can I use it?’ the response from Kofi Duah, an Elizabeth line customer experience assistant, came: “You can use it across our line, so from Paddington to Abbey Wood.
“Splendid,” was the royal reply.
Her Majesty was the first reigning Monarch to travel on the London Underground in 1969, when she opened the Victoria line.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, joined for the royal journey, with the Earl travelling from Paddington to Tottenham Court Road and back.
He even got to see the train driver’s control set up.
The Queen did not attend this part of the engagement, returning home.
The Prime Minister later said: “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.”
The route officially opens to passengers next week, and will carry people across London on the new purple line.