Ailing Queen makes surprise visit, opens Elizabeth line

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh with agency report

From the Queen has come a surprise appearance to officially open the completed Elizabeth line, named in her honour.

The 96-year-old monarch, who rarely carries out public engagements outside of her royal residences, joined her youngest son the Earl of Wessex at Paddington Station for the royal visit on Tuesday.

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.

The longest reigning head of state is just over two weeks away from her Platinum Jubilee celebratory weekend to celebrate 70 years as monarch.

She and Prince Edward were welcomed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford.

The PM said it was fantastic to see her and those that were there are incredibly touched and grateful to Her Majesty for coming to open the Elizabeth line.

The Queen and Prince Edward also met train drivers, station staff and apprentices. The Elizabeth line, runs across London from west to east, will open to passengers on Tuesday 24 May. The Queen was given an Oyster card and shown how to use it on a ticket machine.

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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.”

Tuesday ’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. The Elizabeth line will boost capacity and cut journey times for travel across the capital.

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