Queen discusses science and space for British Science Week
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One photograph posted this evening shows the family meeting the first men on the moon after the successful Apollo 11 mission in 1969. A young Prince Edward can be seen shaking Neil Armstrong’s hands. The Queen and Prince Philip can be seen meeting the other astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, while Princess Anne and Prince Andrew are waiting their turn to meet Mr Armstrong.
Alongside the picture was the caption: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have recognised many scientific milestones over Her Majesty’s reign.”
The Queen also attended a virtual event with experts and schoolchildren today for her first engagement since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The event showcased the latest pictures from NASA’s mission to Mars and classroom rockets made by the pupils.
An image of the Winchcombe meteorite that recently fell to earth in the Gloucestershire town of the same name was shown to the Queen who said: “I’m glad it didn’t hit anyone.”
A picture of the event was posted to Twitter, where the attendees can be seen grinning as they speak to Her Majesty.
The 94-year-old monarch was also presented with a set of NASA Persevere face marks at the end of the session, sent from NASA HQ to Windsor Castle.
Professor Smith asked that one of the masks be gifted to the Duke of Edinburgh, given his interest in space exploration.
Philip’s fascination with space was explored in season three of the Netflix drama The Crown.
In the seventh episode entitled ‘Moondust’, the Duke, played by Tobias Menzies, wrestles with a mid-life crisis that manifests itself in an obsession with Apollo 11.
Mr Menzies told the New York Times: “In some ways, it’s a continuation of themes in the first seasons: being second to his wife, sacrificing his own life and career, to some extent.
“But there is further digging into that, a sense of the road not travelled. I think we all have those thoughts.”
During the event today, the Queen showed off her sense of humour, joking that an important part of going into space is returning to Earth.
She also spoke of her fascination with space exploits and discussed her meeting with the first man in space ‒ Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin ‒ in 1961.
When asked what he was like, she made everyone laugh by replying: “Russian.”
She explained that he did not speak English but found the meeting fascinating nonetheless.
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She added: “It was very interesting to meet him, and I suppose being the first one, it was particularly fascinating.”
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a scientist and co-presenter on the BBC’s The Sky At Night programme, said of Mr Gagarin: “It must have been very terrifying to be the first one, and not really knowing what was going to happen.”
The Queen quipped: “Well, yes ‒ and if you could come back again. That’s very important.”
Following his successful space mission, Mr Gagarin went on a global tour, as did the Apollo 11 astronauts later.
In April 1961, the Queen invited the Russian pioneer to have lunch at Buckingham Palace.
Following her video call with the monarch, Dr Aderin-Pocock praised the royal’s sense of humour.
She said: “When I mentioned Yuri Gagarin to her, I couldn’t believe her answer.
“It’s not what I expected, she made us all laugh.
“She has a wonderful sense of humour and it makes you realise, given the fact he died in 1968, how long she has been our monarch. She is living history, in fact.”
The Queen put on a brave face during her event today, as it has just been days since her grandson Harry and his wife Meghan Markle threw the monarchy into chaos.
Their interview with Oprah has brought up many questions, and Her Majesty responded on Monday that the couple’s claims were “concerning”.
She said in a statement: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.”
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.
“While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.”
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