The Queen was shown how to top up an Oyster card today during a surprise visit to Paddington Station to officially open the Elizabeth line with 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 using a walking cane, picked up a limited edition Elizabeth line Oyster card. It had already been topped up with five pounds for the Queen, who famously rarely carries cash.
A Crossrail worker showed how the ticket machine worked before the monarch asked where passengers could travel to.
Dressed in sunshine yellow, the Queen arrived at Paddington at 11.32am, stepping carefully from the transparent lift while holding a walking stick and smiling warmly.
Unveiling a plaque stating that she had ‘officially opened’ the Elizabeth line, the monarch spent 10 minutes in the station before leaving in a lift, escorted by her son Edward. The earl then returned to the concourse ahead of a return journey on the railway from Paddington to Tottenham Court Road.
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.
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 Queen’s outfit was a Stewart Parvin double-wool crepe coat with an A-line silk dress in shades of yellow, royal blue and turquoise, and a matching hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan. She was wearing her Singapore brooch.
Customer service assistant Kofi Duah showed the monarch how to top up an Oyster Card, telling her: ‘If I just give you this ticket here, you just put it by the yellow reader right there.’
‘On there?’ the Queen replied.
‘Perfect, and if you see on the screen here it says you’ve got £5, and if you want to top up here’s £5 and £10.’
‘And where might I go?’
‘You can go all the way from here to Abbey Wood.’
‘Oh nice, splendid.’
Meanwhile, Prince Edward was invited to stand in the driver’s cab during the second leg of the journey back to Paddington and chatted with driver Carinne Spinola as the train moved. After stepping off the train at Paddington, the Earl of Wessex said: ‘That was brilliant. I did enjoy that. It was good fun.’
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, Grant Shapps and Sadiq Khan also spent an awkward few minutes sitting side by side on the train. Transport Secretary Mr Shapps recently referred Mr Khan, the Major of London, to the Electoral Commission for revealing the start date of the new Crossrail commuter line on the eve of local elections, making the photo op especially uncomfortable.
Following the Queen’s visit, the Prime Minister 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.’