Watch: Queen makes surprise appearance to open the Elizabeth Line
The Queen has made a surprise appearance at Paddington Station to mark the opening of the Elizabeth Line.
The 96-year-old monarch has experienced some health problems in recent weeks, and last week pulled out of the state opening of parliament following some "mobility issues."
But she felt able to take a short stroll on the platform of Crossrail, opting to dress in a bright yellow coat and hat, preferring to use a stick to walk on the concourse.
The Queen smiled warmly as she met Crossrail and Elizabeth line workers, with customer experience assistant Kofi Duah saying he was “thrilled” to present an Oyster card to the Queen and show her how it could be topped up on a machine.
The Queen did not top up the card, which was pre-loaded with £5 of credit.
Mr Duah said: “I gave her an Oyster card and told her she can tap it on the yellow reader. I showed her the current balance and how to top up the Oyster.
“She said ‘Where can I use it?’.
“I said ‘You can use it across our line, so from Paddington to Abbey Wood.
“She said ‘Oh nice, splendid’.”
Unveiling a plaque stating that she had “officially opened” the Elizabeth line, the monarch spent 10 minutes in the station before departing in a lift, escorted by her son Edward.
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 now rarely carries out public engagements outside of her royal residences, and was joined by her youngest son the Earl of Wessex for the official 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 nation’s longest-reigning head of state is just over two weeks away from her Platinum Jubilee celebratory weekend.
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 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 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.
The Elizabeth line, named in honour of the Queen, will open to passengers on 24 May.
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.