THE Queen has privately acknowledged the death of Drummer Lee Rigby by meeting military personnel from the London barracks where he served.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen met personnel who had co-ordinated the response of the Royal Artillery Barracks to the killing last week and those from the soldier’s chain of command.
The Woolwich visit had been originally scheduled for her to see the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery – a mounted, ceremonial unit that fires gun salutes on royal anniversaries and state occasions – in their new home, which is close to the scene of the 25-year-old soldier’s death.
New elements were added to the royal schedule, but the Queen’s journey did not take her past the floral tributes tied to the barracks’ railings.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the Queen had met the officers and soldiers associated with Drummer Rigby in the Sergeants’ Mess towards the end of her visit.
She stressed that the royal engagement had been a long-standing commitment and that “the Queen was privately acknowledging the events of last week”.
The tour of the base was hosted by the commanding officer of the King’s Troop, Major Mark Edward, and when the Queen first arrived, his daughter Alice, seven, presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
Soldiers from the regiment are fighting servicemen, and the Queen presented Afghanistan medals to Lance Bombardier Dannielle Parker, 25 and Warrant Officer Second Class Jeremy Faulkner, 36, a Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.
Sgt Faulkner said: “It’s something special to get [it] from the Queen.”
During the visit, a tearful toddler did his best to upstage the Queen by rolling around on the floor and crying when his mother was introduced to the head of state.
Little Ethan Pagan-Skelley, who is 18 months old and was dressed in a tiny suit complete with shirt and tie, threw a tantrum soon after the Queen turned up.
His father, Sergeant Peter Pagan-Skelley, serves with the prestigious regiment and was in another part of the base, but the infant’s mother, Emma, carried on chatting to the Queen as her son played up.
After meeting the monarch in the gun store, where the regiment’s First World War guns are kept, the toddler’s mother said: “The Queen said, ‘He’s a troublesome one’, but it was lovely to meet her.”
After lunch, the Queen left Woolwich Station from an entrance close to the 18th-century front facade of the Royal Artillery Barracks.
A few well-wishers had gathered to see her off and she waved to them as she left in a limousine.
The car turned left as it drove off. However, just a few hundred yards away to the right were hundreds of bouquets left in memory of Drummer Rigby at the main entrance to the military base.