Eight times the Queen surprised the public: from the Olympics to visiting the Game of Thrones set

·5-min read
Eight times the Queen surprised the public: from the Olympics to visiting the Game of Thrones set

Respects and tributes are being paid to Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history.

At 96, she died peacefully at Balmoral Castle, her favourite summer residence in Scotland, surrounded by her family, loved ones and most trusted courtiers.

The next few days will be full of protocol as is royal procedure, but her 70-year reign wasn’t completely full of restraint: in her later years, the Queen allowed the public mask to slip now and again and gave everyone a glimpse of her playful side - and we couldn’t get enough.

From stealing the spotlight at London Fashion Week and having tea with Paddington Bear to shouting “cows!” at unsuspecting bovine subjects, Her Maj knew how to work her particular brand of magic.

To celebrate her happy and glorious life, we take a look back at the wholesome, silly and hilarious times our late Queen took the world by surprise.

2012, the London Olympics games

A shining moment for London on the world’s stage, the Queen went one further for Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony extravaganza in Stratford, in a skit kept secret from almost everyone - including her own family. A global audience of 900 million viewers collectively gasped as HRH appeared on screen alongside Daniel Craig as 007 and joined him on his latest mission. Boarding a Union Jack chopper, the pair left Buck Pal and flew over the capital’s rooftops, before, in spectacular style, parachuting into the newly built Olympic Stadium to the classic twangs of the James Bond theme tune. We’re pretty sure the astronauts on ISS could hear the worldwide squeals of delight.

On Her Majesty’s secret service, indeed.

2014, The Commonwealth Games

While watching nations compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Jayde Taylor and Brooke Peris, two Australian hockey squad teammates, got the surprise of their lives when they looked at the selfie they'd just taken.

There in the background, dressed in light green with a matching hat was the Queen, photobombing their snap with a sunny smile. Needless to say, it was viral gold with the selfie retweeted 12.2k times and liked by 11.5k accounts.

2014, visiting Game of Thrones set

From one kingdom to another, the Queen visited the GoT set back in 2014 in Northern Ireland. The monarch was met with set designers as well as the show’s prop and costume makers, while also giving face time to some of the series’ hit characters, including Kit Harrington (Jon Snow), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Conleth Hill (Lord Varys) and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark).

The Queen also checked out the Iron Throne but declined an invitation to try it out for size. In an interview on the Late Night show, executive producer David Benioff revealed an "esoteric" rule that meant "the Queen of England is not allowed to sit on a foreign throne.”

Throne: Queen Elizabeth declined to sit on the Iron Throne
Throne: Queen Elizabeth declined to sit on the Iron Throne

2016, The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration

The Queen was accustomed to a lifetime of pomp and ceremony, but on the occasion of her 90th birthday, she let out an unexpected shriek of joy at the sight of Jersey and Red Sussex cattle.

In this wholesome clip, she can be seen excitedly exclaiming "cows!" to the late Prince Phillip who sat by her side for the parade, hosted by Ant & Dec. Although her love for horses and her corgis is well known, the former Sovereign also adored cows and kept the world’s largest herd of Sussex Cows at Windsor Castle (rumoured to sleep on waterbeds).

2016, The Invictus Games

Around the time Harry met Meghan, the Prince got his grandmother involved with a promotional clip for The Invictus Games. The pair are sitting in a royal living room when Prince Harry gets a video message from the Obamas, telling them they’re "bringing it" to the event.

Unfazed, the Queen retorts with a smile and "Oh, please", leaving Harry with no other choice but to turn to the camera with a mic drop of his own.

2018, London Fashion Week

The FROW is a place usually reserved for the top brass in fashion royalty, but all that was blown out of the water when, in February 2018 the Queen (quite rightly) cut to the front of the queue.

Turning up to British fashion designer Richard Quinn’s AW18 show, her presence triggered delightful pandemonium as she beamed at the stunned crowds and models gliding along the catwalk.

Even her FROW neighbour, US Vogue’s Anna Wintour, allowed her inscrutable facade to crack as she beamed with delight to be sat beside the world’s most famous woman (although those shades remained resolutely on).

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

2019, NATO summit

She may have been head of state, but the Queen was also a mother who had to, as all mothers must, keep her kids in check, no matter how old.

While greeting the then US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania beside Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, the Queen dropped formalities for a split second as she caught the Princess Royal, Anne, watching from the wings.

It was initally thought that the Queen was chiding Anne for not joining in the welcoming committee, but officials claim she was looking to see which world leader was next. Still, it was a sweet mother-daughter moment that offered a glimpse into their warm relationship.

2022, the Platinum Jubilee

In what turned out to be the final year of her reign, the 96 year-old Queen was still game for putting on a show. Despite a torrent of news on mobility issues, she pre-recorded a sketch for the celebrations, which involved tea with one Paddington Bear.

Delivered on polished silver service (natch), Her Majesty watched with bemusement as the beloved fictional character guzzled straight from the spout and fumbled at the table, before revealing the essential she always kept in her handbag “for emergencies” - a marmalade sandwich.

Before she joined the jubilant crowds, Paddington removed his red hat and thanked her, for everything. Hear, hear.