Advertisement

Queen takes six-hour drive to concert after helicopter grounded

The Queen hands her umbrella to an aide as she arrives at Salisbury Cathedral in the wet weather
The Queen hands her umbrella to an aide as she arrives at Salisbury Cathedral in the wet weather - Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Pool

The King is doing “extremely well under the circumstances” and has been cheered by the messages of support, the Queen has said in her first words since his cancer diagnosis was revealed.

After her helicopter was grounded, Camilla, 76, took a six-hour road trip to attend a charity concert because she did not want to let her husband down.

She had arranged to attend the event, on Thursday evening at Salisbury Cathedral, before Charles, 75, was diagnosed with cancer.

On arrival in the wind and rain, the Queen told Ben Abbott, 40, from Wiltshire Air Ambulance, who asked after the King: “He is doing extremely well under the circumstances. He is very touched by all of the letters and messages the public have been sending from everywhere. That’s very cheering.”

The Queen arrives at a musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral
The Queen arrives at a musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral - Chris Jackson

The Queen accompanied Charles from London to Sandringham on Tuesday but she was told on Wednesday night that the increasingly treacherous weather conditions would prevent her from flying from Norfolk to the concert by helicopter as planned.

However, a royal source revealed that rather than pull out, she opted to travel more than 200 miles by road, despite the weather warnings, because she had promised the King she would plough on with her official engagements.

“The flight was cancelled due to the weather so she elected to go by road, which is one hell of a journey – at least six hours in these conditions,” one source told The Telegraph.

“She did not want to let down the King, having assured him that she would continue with her schedule of official engagements.”

The Queen was also loath to let down the concert organiser, who is a friend, and the various charities due to benefit from the event, with which she enjoys a personal connection.

The Met Office warned on Thursday that a band of rain, sleet and some snow was moving northwards across the UK as it published tips for driving in severe weather.

The Queen is expected to return to Sandringham to support her husband throughout the weekend. He will return to London in the middle of next week to continue his outpatient hospital treatment.

The Queen, along with the Princess Royal, 73, has become the public face of the Royal family in recent days, stoically ploughing on with official duties despite her deeply personal concern for the King.

With the King forced to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, the Princess of Wales out of action until Easter following abdominal surgery and Prince William opting to clear his own diary to look after her, senior royals are thin on the ground.

Although the Prince of Wales carried out an investiture and attended a fundraising gala on Wednesday, he is not expected to carry out any further official duties until the week commencing Feb 19, after half term.

Celebrating charities

The Queen smiled as she arrived at Salisbury Cathedral to celebrate the work of local charities including the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and Community First – Youth Action Wiltshire, as well as the regimental charities of the Grenadier Guards and the Rifles, of which she is Colonel-in-Chief.

The Queen greets representatives from charities including the Wiltshire Air Ambulance
The Queen greets representatives from charities including the Wiltshire Air Ambulance - Chris Jackson

Award-winning concert pianist Rupert Egerton-Smith was due to perform, alongside the band of the Grenadier Guards and the band and bugles of the Rifles.

Her Majesty was due to meet Rev Canon Anna Machamm, Mr Egerton-Smith, and the directors of music from the bands of the Grenadier Guards and the Rifles at a short reception before the concert.

Meanwhile, Princess Anne acknowledged support for the King and the Princess of Wales as she celebrated the 35th anniversary of  Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre in west London.

The Queen already has several engagements in the diary for next week.