By Rebecca English
Just the ticket: The Queen has a little smile as she passes through the Tube barriers
She’s not averse to slumming it in first class on a public train, for short hops.
But the Queen is the last person you'd expect to see nipping through the gates on the Tube.
Yesterday, however, she was spotted nosing around Aldgate Underground station
Officially, the monarch was at the Tube station just there to meet staff in the ticket hall and view a memorial plaque for the July 7 bombings
Officially, the monarch was just there to meet staff in the ticket hall and view a memorial plaque for the July 7 bombings.
But it probably wasn't a bad idea to get acquainted with the system - particularly as she suffered a transport crisis later in the day.
After her visit to Aldgate and a nice lunch at the Gherkin skyscraper, the Queen's armour-plated Bentley broke down. The vintage motor, presented to her in 2002 to mark her Golden Jubilee, simply wouldn't start.
As she clambered back out, an aide gesticulated to a Metropolitan Police Range Rover escort vehicle and helped the 83-year-old monarch climb inside.
She then drove off to her final engagement of the day just a few minutes away at Tower Bridge.
One onlooker who saw the entire episode said: 'It was all a bit awkward.
'The Queen's obviously never experienced an engine break down before and looked a bit stunned that the car wasn't working.
'She got out and an aide told her she was going to have use a police Range Rover.
'She just hopped in the back and continued on her journey.'
A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed last night that an incident had occurred.
'There was a problem with the Queen's Bentley during her tour of the City of London,' he said.
'The Queen got into a police Range Rover which was trailing her vehicle and went on to the next location without delay.
'The Bentley did eventually start a few minutes later but it was most important for her not to be late for her next engagement, which is why she went on ahead. Staff are currently investigating what the problem was.'
The Queen has been using the Bentley in question as her principle transport for state and ceremonial occasions for almost eight years.
Designed for a minimum lifespan of 25 years and 125,000 miles, it runs on LPG, weighs almost three and a half tons and has several unusual specifications - including specially lowered seats to accommodate her large collection of hats.
The rear of the car is also fitted with laminated glass with an unusual reflective coating which allows the Queen to see -and be seen - without the temperature rising intolerably.
The Queen was in the City of London yesterday to meet some of the behind-the-scenes workers who keep the capital functioning - and there wasn't a banker in site.
The Queen is not unfamiliar with using public transport. Shortly before Christmas she was seen here boarding a train from Kings Cross to Kings Lynn in Norfolk
Her first stop was to meet staff, most of whom are volunteers, at the RNLI Tower Lifeboat Station on the River Thames who have saved 183 lives in the last eight years and rely entirely on public donations to carry out their work.
She then moved onto Aldgate tube station where she met station staff in the ticket hall and viewed a memorial plaque to mark the July 7 bombings.
Looking remarkably bright despite the drizzle in a red tweed coat and velvet trimmed hat, the Queen then went for a lunch of salmon, slow cooked lamb and English rose champagne (which she declined in favour of her preferred Dubonnet and Gin with a twist of lemon) in the landmark Gherkin building.
The lunch was cooked by young people from the Hoxton Apprentice, a group of charitable restaurants which provides apprenticeships for people who have been unemployed or lost their way in life.
Afterwards she took a stroll across Tower Bridge - much to the surprise of passing motorists.
Accompanied by her lady-in-waiting and equerry, the sprightly monarch strolled on the pavement past a queue of traffic, prompting astonished drivers to wind down their windows in disbelief
It was after her visit to Aldgate that the Queen's armour-plated Bentley broke down. She was then helped into a police Range Rover to get to her final engagement of the day
One's sign: The Queen smiles broadly as she is presented with a London Underground sign for Buckingham Palace
And when she was up, she was up: The Queen takes in the view from the Gherkin after her visit to Aldgate Tube station
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