Suffolk hosts unexpected royal visit

THE Queen and Prince Philip unexpectedly graced Suffolk last night - but there was none of the usual pomp and circumstance expected of a royal visit.For the Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh travelled to Ipswich on a packed commuter train, rubbing shoulders with members of the public while sipping tea and sampling biscuits in a First Class carriage.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE Queen and Prince Philip unexpectedly graced Suffolk last night - but there was none of the usual pomp and circumstance expected of a royal visit.

For the Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh travelled to Ipswich on a packed commuter train, rubbing shoulders with members of the public while sipping tea and sampling biscuits in a First Class carriage.

When the royal couple left the train at Ipswich station, shocked passengers and staff on the platform could hardly believe their eyes - one was overhead saying: “I'm sure that lady is on the television”.


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Others scrambled for their mobile phones to capture the surreal moment on camera so their friends would believe them.

The Queen, dressed in a green two-piece suit, arrived at Ipswich station at 6pm on the 5pm service from London Liverpool Street.

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Buckingham Palace would not discuss her plans, only saying the Queen's weekends were “spent privately.”

It emerged last night police and rail operator One had been told about her travelling plans just 24 hours earlier but had been sworn to secrecy for security reasons.

Jonathan Denby, a spokesman for rail operator One, said: “We knew yesterday but it was all kept private. It was as low key as it can be when you're the Queen.

“We provided her with tea and biscuits. She seemed to enjoy the trip and she commented on how quick it was.

“We made sure we did everything possible to make sure we had a smooth run and we ran three minutes early into Ipswich. Nobody was complaining!”

“There were one or two raised eyebrows. Everyone was a bit nervous. All of the team from our side did a great job. I'm glad we were able to ensure everything ran smoothly.

“It was an honour for us to look after her. Clearly we will always be happy to welcome her or any other members of the Royal Family. We are delighted to be able to help.”

The Queen and Prince Phillip took their seats in the first carriage of First Class. Although a few seats around the Royal couple were kept free for security reasons, the carriage was relatively full with other passengers.

“It's not quite the busiest time but it was still a busy train and it was full. Everybody had a seat,” said Mr Denby. “Clearly there was a little bit of a cordon for security purposes.”

The train entered the station unusually on platform two so that the Queen and her husband could leave straight onto the station platform rather than walking over the bridge. They then strolled among other train passengers to the car park where they were picked up by a car.

A major police operation involving British Transport Police and sniffer dogs got underway before the Queen arrived.

A spokesman for British Transport Police said last night: “She walked through the platform where the passengers were and round the back and off she went. Lots of people saw her and there were one or two shocked faces. The camera phones came out.”

Stephanie Porter, who manages the station's Wine Buffers shop, was one of those walking on the platform when the Royal couple arrived.

“People couldn't believe it and one guy said: “I'm sure I've seen that lady on the TV'. She didn't wave at anybody she just walked past as a regular commuter. It will probably be the first and last time I will ever see her.”

A spokeswoman from Suffolk police said the force was aware of the impromptu visit but would not comment further.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said last night: “The Queen spends her weekends privately. This one is no exception.”

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