Photographers' Blog

All hail the Queen

May 15, 2012

By Suzanne Plunkett

When Queen Elizabeth II makes a public appearance there is usually a long list of protocol rules for those handling the visit, but this clearly doesn’t include what to do when hailstones start showering down.

The Queen was caught in a sudden hail storm on Wednesday while meeting the public in Richmond Park, southwest of London. Dark clouds overhead unleashed a torrent of ice on the 86-year-old monarch and a bitter wind tried to snatch away her umbrella.

The burst of wintry weather caught many people off guard. There were squeals from school children gathered for the event.

And around the Queen, officials hovered uneasily, unsure whether to breach rules on touching her as they ushered her to and from shelters.

But the Queen herself was unfazed. Despite being dressed for less inclement weather in an elegant powder blue dress and a white lavender and pale blue tweed coat, she kept her poise and gamely triumphed over the wind in the battle for control of her transparent umbrella.

Then, despite wearing heels, she skipped gingerly across a boggy field that had most people slipping and sliding to remain upright.

The Queen took cover in a large tent as the wind howled and the hailstones thrummed down on the canvas. The hail soon subsided and was followed by rain, which she clearly doesn’t consider something that should keep her from her business.

And so she continued her official duties, which included meeting sports people, talking with members of a gun-dog club, watching a maypole dance and a ballet troupe. Accompanied by broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough she also encountered otters, a horse and a sheep-shearing demonstration.

The event in Richmond Park, being attended by the Queen as part of her jubilee celebrations to mark 60 years on the throne, was named largely after the animals on display, but could just as easily have been named after the squally weather: Wild London.

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From the early days of her enthronement as Queen, Elizabeth has always shown pluck and fortitude in dealing with situations as diverse as post-World War II reconstruction, to damaging public relations concerning her children, their wives, becoming less regal and more in-tune with the people. Abandoning royal yachts, riding on public trains, and even having her own personal website endear her more than half-a-century reign.

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