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The Queen flies to Balmoral for short break before Platinum Jubilee

The Queen flies to Balmoral for short break before Platinum Jubilee: Her Majesty, 96, arrived at her Scottish estate yesterday to relax for a few days after busy schedule of engagements

  • Latest Platinum Jubilee news as the Queen celebrates 70 years of service

The Queen has jetted to Scotland for a ‘mini break’ at Balmoral before next weekend’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations on London, it was revealed today.

Her Majesty is at her estate in Aberdeenshire to recharge her batteries ahead of four days of events to mark her 70 years on throne from next Thursday.

It is understood the Queen arrived at her private Scottish home last night. She usually visits Scotland at this time of year.

The monarch has attended a number of high-profile engagements in recent weeks despite her ongoing mobility problems and it is understood she is now pacing herself before the national events start.

Balmoral has had a number of adaptations in recent years, including her Craigowan Lodge, which was fitted with a wheelchair -friendly lift in 2021.

Her trip to Scotland came days after she debuted her new royal golf buggy at the Chelsea Flower Show. The monarch beamed with delight as she toured the stands of the world famous horticultural extravaganza.

The Queen, pictured at Chelsea this week in her new royal golf buggy, has flown to Scotland for a short break at Balmoral

The exclusive Danish-built electric vehicle – prices start at £20,000 for a six-seater model – was bought by the Queen privately earlier this year to help with her ongoing mobility problems, but had not been seen in public before. 

It was transported from Windsor Castle to the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in anticipation of her arrival.

And after being driven from her Berkshire residence to west London in an official Range Rover, the 96-year-old monarch transferred to the buggy in order to tour the stands – with a palace chauffeur, sporting a peaked cap and stern expression, at the wheel. Her lady-in-waiting hopped on the back.

Her presence – and clear delight – at making such a ‘hardy perennial’ in the royal calendar was greeted with cheers by well-wishers and bodes well for next week’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Sources have indicated that now the buggy has been seen in public for the first time, the elderly monarch – who has been increasingly using a stick in public – will be more inclined to use it for public engagements that involve walking and physical exertion.

Earlier this year the Queen candidly admitted during an audience at Windsor that she was having trouble moving.

Over the last eight months she has been forced to cancel a string of public engagements, including the State Opening of Parliament – due to her ill-health and increasing infirmity. She clearly would not have been up to the taxing walk around the extensive Chelsea showgrounds.

But last night, dressed in a ‘pink lemonade’-coloured coat and ivory dress by Stuart Parvin, with her familiar white gloves, the Queen looked to be in high spirits.

Asked about the buggy, a palace spokesman said: ‘Adjustments have been made for the Queen’s comfort.’

Instead she had a ‘wheely’ grand tour seated next to the President of the Royal Horticultural Society, Keith Weed, who gave her a running commentary about the show gardens and displays.

She appeared animated as she spoke to designers and plant experts, even joking at one point about the appalling weather in her Coronation year.

During her tour she stopped at the Hands Off Mangrove garden by Grow2Know, which aims to highlight global deforestation and racial injustice. How long did it take to create, she asked co-designer Danny Clarke. ‘Two and a half years,’ he replied. ‘Covid helped!’ she laughed.

The Queen also spoke to the renowned clematis grower Raymond Evison. As she was introduced by Weed, she said: ‘We wouldn’t have any clematis if it wasn’t for him!’

Towards the end of her tour the Queen was shown her three ‘signatures’, special pieces of floral artwork commissioned by the RHS and signed by the Queen.

As well as the new one marking her Platinum Jubilee and one from her Golden Jubilee, there was a third from 1953, the year of her Coronation.

While the two later ones showed a profusion of blooms, the 1953 one just featured roses and thistles.

Fiona Davison, head of libraries and exhibitions at the RHS, said: ‘She remarked that it was quite sparse, and said, ‘Possibly because nothing much was growing in 1953!’’

Davison added: ‘The collection goes back to Queen Charlotte in 1816. The Queen is the only monarch to have signed more than one royal autograph.’

The Queen has been seen in a golf buggy twice before.

In 2013 during the Coronation Festival, the first commercial event held inside Buckingham Palace’s grounds, she was driven around in a buggy as she viewed displays put on by tailors, jewellers, chocolatiers and fine wine merchants.

In 2011, she and the Duke of Edinburgh also toured the grounds of Government House in Canberra on a golf buggy during a tour of Australia.

But it is the first time that she had used one in public due to her age and mobility, as opposed to practicality.

It was bought by the royal household in March and she has since been seen in it in the grounds of Windsor Castle – along with her pet dogs.

The luxury model, with white paintwork and brown leather seats, is made by Garia and has a top speed of 20mph with a range of 43 miles. Its weather-proof roof and build means it can be used all year round.

The move follows in the footsteps of the Queen Mother, who toured the grounds of the Chelsea Flower Show in 2001 in what was nicknamed the Queen Mum Mobile – a bespoke golf cart painted in her light blue and gold candy-stripe racing colours.

Other members of the royal family present were the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Princess Beatrice, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

The show has returned to its traditional May slot for the first time since the pandemic struck.

The Queen has been the Royal Horticultural Society’s royal patron since 1952 and was a regular visitor to the garden show with her parents as a child. She has attended more than 50 times during her 70-year reign.

The monarch’s Jubilee is one of the themes of this year’s show.

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