Queen Makes Surprise Public Appearance During British Summer Heatwave

Queen Elizabeth II made a surprise public appearance with her daughter, Princess Anne, to visit hospice staff and patients in England despite soaring summer temperatures.

The 96-year-old monarch's visit to the Thames Hospice in Maidenhead, only a short distance from Windsor Castle, was not announced until her arrival on Friday morning in a new model which sees the queen decide on the day of events whether she feels able to take part.

Since suffering several health scares last fall and continuing to experience what Buckingham Palace has officially called "episodic mobility problems," the queen has reduced her number of public engagements, undertaking face-to-face meetings from her now permanent home base at Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth II Thames Hospice
Queen Elizabeth II smiles during a visit to officially open the new building at Thames Hospice in Maidenhead on July 15, 2022. She was accompanied by her daughter, Princess Anne. AP/Kirsty O'Connor

The visit comes as the United Kingdom is experiencing a historic heatwave with the Met Office (Britain's national meteorological service) issuing extreme heat weather warnings across the country as temperatures are forecasted to reach upwards of 104 degrees Fahrenheit in parts next week.

The queen appeared in cheerful spirits as she visited the hospice facility on Friday accompanied by her only daughter Princess Anne.

To beat the heat the queen forwent her usual trademark colored coat and hat, opting instead for a simple floral print dress and black accessories including her trusted black patent leather handbag. The monarch also wore a diamond aquamarine brooch which had belonged to her mother and a three-strand heirloom pearl necklace.

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Queen Elizabeth II meets patient Pat White during a visit to officially open the new building at Thames Hospice in Maidenhead on July 15, 2022. It was a surprise appearance for the queen in the middle of a brutal heatwave. AP

As a mobility aid, the queen appeared at the engagement using a long walking stick with a polished handle which was presented to her as an official Platinum Jubilee gift on behalf of the British Army. The queen first used the gift during the jubilee Trooping the Colour celebrations in June having previously used a cane that had belonged to her late husband, Prince Philip.

An inscription carved into a silver band at the top of the stick reads: "The Army presents its loyal support to THE SOVEREIGN. Platinum Jubilee MCMLII-MMXXII."

Traditional stick marker, Dennis Wall from Wales, told the BBC on seeing the queen use the piece: "I was immensely proud, and when the camera panned round and I saw how many tens and tens of thousands of people were around and down the mall, it brought the enormity of it home to me."

The queen has opened many hospices throughout her reign and the Thames Hospice in Maidenhead has recently undergone a £22 million building project to enlarge facilities in order to welcome more patients.

Queen Elizabeth II NHS George Cross
Queen Elizabeth II awarded the NHS with the George Cross in a ceremony at Windsor Castle on July 12, 2022. The award is the highest honor the government can give to civilians "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger." Aaron Chown/Pool/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the queen undertook another medically linked engagement at Windsor Castle where she presented the National Health Service (NHS) with the George Cross, the highest award the government can bestow to civilians, according to the Cabinet Office, "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger."

The NHS has been awarded the George Cross on the advice of the Prime Minister for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The visit comes as the queen prepares for her annual summer holiday in Scotland where she has traditionally spent the months of August and September during her reign on the Balmoral Estate built by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The queen has visited Balmoral briefly already this year, taking a short break before the celebratory events planned to mark her Platinum Jubilee in June.

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