As presenters Julian Worricker and Sophie Long addressed viewers from their glass-windowed studio, the Queen, who was being given a tour, loomed into view behind them, peering from the newsroom.
The shocked pair turned to see Her Majesty, dressed in a powder blue coat and hat, smiling behind them as BBC journalists gathered before raising a resounding cheer.
“Photo bombing” has become an online sensation and involves people or groups appearing unexpectedly in the background of photos or videos – often making a silly face.
Hundreds of BBC staff lined an open atrium for the monarch’s arrival at the major new extension to the broadcaster’s London HQ which cost more than £1 billion and took a decade to complete.
In a short address, broadcast live by BBC Radio 4 and around the globe through the BBC World Service, she recalled a previous visit to the original Broadcasting House with the Duke of Edinburgh, who was due to attend yesterday’s official opening but is being treated in hospital, before her coronation 60 years ago.
On a programme presented by James Naughtie and Sian Williams, the Queen said: “It is a great pleasure to visit the BBC today, and to see it in its new home. I remember first coming to Broadcasting House with my father the King and my mother and sister shortly before the war.
“I came again with the Duke of Edinburgh shortly before the coronation in 1953.
“I was struck then, as I am now, by the sheer pace of change which has transformed your industry over the past 60 years, years during which broadcasting has enriched our lives in so many ways.”
Her Majesty added: “I hope this new building will serve you well for the future and I am delighted to declare it open.”
The Queen, known to be a fan of classical music, was treated to a special performance by Irish group The Script and sat and listened intently as they played the David Bowie song Heroes.
At the end, she chatted briefly to lead singer Danny O’Donoghue and when she learned his band was playing at Glastonbury this year, joked about the festival’s reputation as a mudbath. She said: “Glastonbury – the place you get covered in mud?”
The singer, a judge on BBC One’s The Voice talent show, replied with a laugh: “You’ve got to bring good wellies.”
In the newsroom, she was besieged by staff who were seen taking photos of her visit on their mobile phones and cheered and waved as she walked past their desks.
Mary Hockaday, head of BBC News, escorted the Queen around the open-plan floor, which serves as a backdrop to the BBC’s news bulletins and its 24-hour news channel.
Among those the Queen met was TV veteran and Strictly Come Dancing host Sir Bruce Forsyth, who later said it was a “great shame” the Duke of Edinburgh could not attend.
“This building would have meant an awful lot to him. Seeing the BBC in its early, early days – because we all go back 50, 60, 70 years – and to see it now the way it is quite remarkable.”
Prince Philip ‘comfortable’ after having exploratory operation
The Duke of Edinburgh is “progressing satisfactorily” after his exploratory operation, Buckingham Palace said last night.
Prince Philip was operated on yesterday having been admitted to the London Clinic on Thursday night after appearing at a garden party.
Buckingham Palace said the “results” of the operation would now be analysed.
A short statement said: “His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has had an exploratory operation following abdominal investigations. The results will now be analysed.
“At this early stage he is progressing satisfactorily.
“Further updates will continue to be issued when appropriate.”
Later, a spokeswoman said the Duke was “comfortable” last evening.
It is thought the operation was on his abdomen and did not involve his heart or bladder, organs the Duke has experienced problems with before.