Queen Elizabeth is back on official duty as she stepped out for her first royal outing of the new year on Monday.
As her winter stay at her private Sandringham estate comes to an end, the 93-year-old monarch visited the Royal Air Force Marham in Norfolk, where she observed training demonstrations of engine maintenance, a canopy change and of weapons loading at the Integrated Training Centre.
Although this marks the first official event for the Queen, she’s had a busy start to the year due to family drama. This year’s countryside escape was interrupted by grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s shocking announcement that they intended to step back as senior members of the royal family. The Queen called Prince Harry along with his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William to an emergency meeting at Sandringham to discuss the matter.
According to reports, the Queen and her son and heir, Prince Charles, have also had talks — including an “emergency meeting” — at her Sandringham estate over Prince Andrew‘s connections to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Additionally, Brexit was officially enacted into U.K. law on Friday, ending the long debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who asked the Queen to step in last fall, and the British parliament.
The Queen, who is an Honorary Air Commodore, was greeted by the Station Commander Group Captain James Beck and a Guard of Honour.
During her visit, the Queen, who trained as a mechanic in the ATS during WWII, witnessed a demonstration of virtual training in the Air System Maintenance Trainer Classroom, which provides new pilots with simulation-based training to help them practice flying planes.
Beck said everyone at the base had been “buzzing” to see the Queen, who has been visiting the base for decades, usually every other year during her winter stay at Sandringham.
But he said the royal visit was also a chance to recognize personnel who have played a key part in getting the jets, some of which will spend up to six months at a time on Britain’s two new aircraft carriers, up and running. “It’s not so much about the Queen; it’s about saying thank you to everyone,” he added.
As she rounded out her visit, the Queen met with groups of students from the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy attending courses at the Centre before she departed for a private lunch.
A military base with over 3,600 working personnel, RAF Marham provides engineering support across the RAF and is home to a range of support functions, from maintenance to frontline support. The base is also home to the F-35B Lightning, a military aircraft.
On Wednesday, the Queen will continue her royal duties in Norfolk as she is set to open the new Wolferton Pumping Station in King’s Lynn, following in the footsteps of her father King George VI, who opened the original station on February 2, 1948.
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Last month, the royal was set to step out for her annual tea time with the local Women’s Institute near her Sandringham estate. However, a slight cold forced her to make a last-minute cancellation on her visit.
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