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One’s royal surprise! The Queen, 96, smiles broadly as she makes unexpected visit to Paddington Station to officially open the new Elizabeth Line with Prince Edward – days after canceling State Opening visit due to ‘mobility issues’
A beaming Queen made a surprise appearance at Paddington Station today with her son Prince Edward to see the completed Elizabeth Line, which is named in her honour.
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.
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.
Then, 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.
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.