The Queen enjoys train ride in disguise

When you are the Queen it is difficult to enjoy a day out without attracting attention. But the 82-year-old monarch did her best to blend into the crowd as she enjoyed a ride in the cab of a miniature steam train this weekend.

The Telegraph | May 5, 2008
By Katie Franklin and agencies

Travelling incognito, the Queen wore a raincoat, headscarf and glasses as she took the one and a half mile trip around the grounds of a stately home in Hampshire's New Forest.

The Queen had earlier named the little engine in a private ceremony before climbing aboard the bright blue locomotive. She later chatted to staff at Exbury Garden.

The Queen, wrapped in a grey raincoat, was visiting the home of her friend Leopold de Rothschild, who drove the small engine.

The 80-year-old merchant banker is a keen railway enthusiast and shares his passion for steam with the Queen.

The locomotive, which weighs five tonnes, is named Mariloo after Mr de Rothschild's mother Marie-Louise.

The Queen also found time to pick up a shovel and planted a young tree within the grounds on Saturday afternoon. Four years ago she planted a Yew tree in the grounds.

Exbury Gardens spokeswoman Annie Bullen said: "Members of the public were around at the time but it seems they didn't bat an eyelid at the Queen.

"It was a private visit, she came with very few people and was dressed very anonymously - it was certainly as if she was travelling incognito and didn't want to be recognised.

"There's no doubt the Queen thoroughly enjoyed herself. We have three small steam trains here and she loves riding on them when she gets a chance."

Exbury Gardens today released a statement: "Exbury's new steam locomotive received the best possible launch when a surprise visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II saw her named and rolled out onto the tracks.

"The Queen, a personal friend of the Rothschild family who own Exbury, unveiled the five tonne Mariloo in a private ceremony on Saturday afternoon just a day before its public launch.

"The Queen then rode on the footplate of the new engine as family and friends of the Rothschilds were driven around the Exbury Garden railway by Leopold de Rothschild.

"Her Majesty enjoyed tea and lunch with the Rothschilds and took a walk around Exbury accompanied by head gardener John Anderson who showed her the progress made by a Yew tree she planted four years ago."

Mr de Rothschild added: "Her Majesty very kindly agreed to make a private visit to Exbury to help us celebrate the launch of our marvellous new engine Mariloo.

"She not only gave Mariloo her blessing but also a new tree which will stand as a tribute to her and the beauty of this garden for generations to come."

The tree she planted is known as a Handkerchief Tree or Dove Tree because of its large white blooms.

Four years ago the Queen was pictured enjoying a ride on one of Mr de Rothschild's other small engines, Rosemary.