The Queen marked the completion of London’s Crossrail project by attending the ceremonial opening of the Elizabeth Line.
Accompanied by the Earl of Wessex, she was greeted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London Transport Commissioner Andy Byford at Paddington station.
She met the staff who played a key role in the project and who will operate the railway, including train drivers, station staff and apprentices.
Using a cane, she smiled warmly as she met workers from the Crossrail and Elizabeth lines. He was given an Oyster card and shown how to use it at an ATM. She walked slowly as she made her way through the hall of the station.
The Queen unveiled a plaque saying she had ‘officially opened’ the Elizabeth Line and spent 10 minutes in the station before heading off again in a lift.
Johnson told guests: ‘We are all incredibly touched, moved and grateful to Her Majesty for coming to open the Elizabeth line today. It was fantastic to see her.
It was a rare public engagement for the 96-year-old monarch, who missed the official opening of parliament last week.
Announcing the Queen’s intention to be at the ceremony, Buckingham Palace 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 organizers were told of the possibility that she could attend.
The engagement is the Queen’s first outside the Windsor area since she attended the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service at Westminster Abbey seven weeks ago.
The Elizabeth Line, named for the Queen, will open to passengers on May 24. It was hoped the head of state would attend the opening ceremony, but her attendance was not guaranteed as she missed a number of major events this year due to mobility issues.
She went to the Royal Windsor horse show on Friday and was the guest of honor on Sunday at the A Gallop Through History horse-riding extravaganza near Windsor, the first big event of the Jubilee festivities.
Crossrail, the name of the project to build the new east-west railway, has been delayed and over budget due to numerous issues including construction difficulties and complications in installing signaling systems.
It was due to be completed in December 2018 and had a budget of £14.8 billion in 2010. The total cost was estimated at £18.9 billion, including £5.1 billion from the government .
The Elizabeth line will increase capacity and reduce journey times in 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.
The trains will initially run in three sections, which should be integrated in the fall.