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.