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 which had been topped up with £5. She then chatted with Crossrail staff, who showed her how to use a 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, the Express reported.
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.’
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 which had been topped up with £5
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 Express reported
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 nation’s longest reigning head of state is just over two weeks away from her Platinum Jubilee celebratory weekend
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.
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.
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.