'Gosh, that sounds dangerous': The Queen does Zoom

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent

We’ve all had to adapt a little during lockdown, and the Queen is no different.

In a royal Zoom call - her second virtual engagement since the outbreak of the pandemic - the monarch was left amused by the creative lockdown exercise regime of one soldier.

As Lance Corporal Stephens, a member of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, told the Queen about his unusual fitness technique during the pandemic that involves pushing a car along the streets, she responded with a laugh, saying: “Well, I suppose that’s one way to train”, before adding: “Gosh. Sounds a very dangerous job.”

Her Royal Highness was taking part in an official call with three service personnel around the world. The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, outlined how their duties have been affected by the pandemic.

Using the sign in name ‘Windsor UK’, the Queen told the three: “Everybody’s been extremely busy with the pandemic and doing a wonderful job.”

L/Cpl Stephens said afterwards: “She had a big smile on her face when I said about pushing the car.

“I think she was quite impressed with that.”

EMBARGOED TO 2200 TUESDAY JULY 14  Undated handout screengrab of Queen Elizabeth II during a video call from Windsor Castle with members of the Armed Forces based across the globe. PA Photo. Issue date: Tuesday July 14, 2020. The Queen spoke to representatives from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Buckingham Palace/PA Wire  NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Queen Elizabeth II during a video call from Windsor Castle with members of the Armed Forces. (PA Images)

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He also joked he would send her a T-shirt when asked if she had backed his team’s bid to go to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

L/Cpl Stephens joined the RAF in 2011 and is based in Northolt, trained in forced protection, and specialising as a sniper.

He made headlines after pushing his fiancee’s Mini Cooper around Peterborough to keep up his fitness.

He also set up a weights rack in his back garden to keep up his training, and isolated with his teammate, Nimroy Turgott.

L/Cpl Stephens said: “We had to come up with our own creative ways to get our training done to be ready for our competitive season which starts in November.”

EMBARGOED TO 2200 TUESDAY JULY 14  Undated handout screengrab of Queen Elizabeth II during a video call from Windsor Castle with members of the Armed Forces based across the globe. PA Photo. Issue date: Monday July 13, 2020. The Queen spoke to representatives from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Buckingham Palace/PA Wire  NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Queen Elizabeth II spoke to Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter and three personnel. (PA Images)

He said of the royal video-call: “It was a bit strange, I’ve been in close proximity with the Queen on quite a few occasions but never actually had a face-to-face conversation with her – well, screen-to-screen.

“She just said it had been a hard time and it was nice to keep in contact with everybody.”

He added: “She seemed very relaxed and in fact she made me feel a bit more relaxed when she came on. She was really smiley.”

The three service personnel represented the RAF, the Army and the Royal Navy. Lieutenant Colonel Barrie Terry of The Yorkshire Regiment, represented the Army and dialled in from Mali, where he is stationed on a peacekeeping mission.

He said: “It was a novel experience from Mali, I think for her as well.

“The internet connection held up, which was good.”

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TOPSHOT - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park, west of London, over the weekend of May 30 and May 31, 2020. (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, during lockdown. (Getty Images)

Speaking about the 94-year-old monarch, he said: “I think she took to the technology really well, she was very happy; very au fait with it.”

Lt Col Terry, 47, has not been able to see his wife and children since November as two periods of leave had to be cancelled because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

Anya, his wife, works for the NHS trust in Gloucester, where they live, and trains healthcare professionals and return to practice nurses. They have two children, Theo, 15, and 11-year-old Arthur.

Lt Col Terry said: “I think with her [the Queen’s] background, she’s used to her grandchildren and her children at various stages of their life being away due to service in the armed forces, especially with Prince Philip.

“I think she’s familiar with the family separation that service life brings.”

Prince Philip gave up a burgeoning career in the Navy when the Queen acceded to the throne earlier than they had expected, after her father died.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Queen Elizabeth II attends a ceremony to mark her official birthday at Windsor Castle on June 13, 2020 in Windsor, England. The Queen celebrates her 94th birthday this year, in line with Government advice, it was agreed that The Queen's Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, would not go ahead in its traditional form. (Photo by Paul Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen is head of the Armed Forces. (Getty Images)

The third person on the call was Able Seaman Sophie Levy, 22, who dialled in from her first operational deployment on board RFA Argus off Curacao in the Caribbean.

The ship was deployed in April to help British Overseas Territories during the pandemic and will stay in the Caribbean for the hurricane season.

The Queen remarked: “So this is your first deployment is it? … Sounds as though you’re rather busy.”

AB Levy, from Windsor, said afterwards: “I called from a cabin on board so she was able to see what life on board is like and how we live on Argus.

“She could see my photos in the background of my family.”

AB Levy met the Queen in 2014 when she was 16, and a sea cadet, and escorted her around Holyport College.

She said: “Her Majesty brought it up this morning and it was a nice personal connection to bring it up that I had met her all those years ago.”

The Queen also heard about how social distancing rules mean the ship’s crew can’t spend their free time on land.

AB Levy said: “The Queen spoke … about my job, and that we haven’t been able to get off and that it must be quite a difficult time.”

The Queen is head of the Armed Forces, and shared a message to personnel on Armed Forces Day last month.

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