Queen seen smiling in surprise visit to open hospice centre in Maidenhead

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The Queen has made a surprise visit to a hospice with the Princess Royal to open its new centre in Maidenhead.

The monarch and her daughter Anne travelled the short distance from her Windsor Castle home to tour the Thames Hospice to meet staff, volunteers, and a patient.

The Queen, 96, was seen smiling whilst greeting staff and walking through the centre with a walking stick.

And Her Majesty saw the funny side when a mobile phone rang at a crucial moment just as she was introduced to Graham White and his wife Pat, a patient who has stage 4 cancer

"Typical, a phone goes off immediately," the Queen quipped, as Mr White sheepishly said it was his son ringing.

Mrs White, 63, chatted to the Queen and afterwards described meeting her as "a memory that I will treasure".

Of her husband's phone going off, she said: "I could have killed him!

"People think the Queen is all stiff upper lip, but she has a sense of humour."

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The hospice has been welcoming royals for decades, given its proximity to Windsor Castle.

For more than 30 years, the hospice has been providing palliative and end-of-life care, and support to people across East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire.

Its services are free for those who need care, and more than 50% of the £13m annual running costs come from charitable support.

The Queen's visit came after she celebrated the achievements of the NHS across the decades by awarding the institution the George Cross during a ceremony she hosted at Windsor on Tuesday.

The head of state was joined by the Prince of Wales for the event, where health leaders from the four home nations were each awarded the medal.

The monarch has been seen publicly only occasionally since marking her Platinum Jubilee, including at a military event at her Edinburgh palace in June.

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