Queen pops in for lunch at Gunwharf Quays

Nigel Rigden

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VISITORS at Gunwharf Quays were stunned when they got a glimpse of the Queen as she popped into Portsmouth for lunch.

Surprised shoppers and tourists gathered along the railing outside Gunwharf Quays Marina to see Her Majesty as she made an unannounced visit yesterday.

The Queen leaves the M.V. Leander which was alongside at Gunwharf Marina after taking lunch with Sir Donald Gosling

The Queen leaves the M.V. Leander which was alongside at Gunwharf Marina after taking lunch with Sir Donald Gosling

The monarch, 85, had been enjoying a two-hour lunch on luxurious yacht the Leander, which is owned by NCP car park millionaire Sir Donald Gosling.

As people found out about the Queen’s secret visit, they flocked to see her leave the yacht.

The Queen arrived in Southsea via helicopter yesterday at 11.45am.

She landed in playing fields owned by the Ministry of Defence near to Clarence Pier.

From there she was driven to Gunwharf Quays in a green Range Rover to have a private lunch with Sir Donald on the 245ft yacht.

A small crowd had gathered around the marina as they anxiously waited to see the Queen.

And when she stepped out onto the pontoon, wearing a powder pink coat, a headscarf with a rose pattern print, black shoes and a black handbag, onlookers cheered and applauded.

The Queen, who was carrying a bunch of flowers in her hand, waved to the audience.

Marilyn Reilly, 63, of Almondsbury Road, Paulsgrove, said: ‘My mother has come to visit me from Exeter and we just came along to see Spinnaker Tower and were having lunch in the cafe.

‘Then we found out the Queen was here.

‘I’m a fan of the Queen and the royal family because they bring a lot to the country and they also give us something.

‘It was a great surprise to see her.’

Christina and Gordon Rogers, of Elizabeth Road, Waterlooville, had decided to spend the day in Gunwharf Quays.

Christina, 65, said: ‘We just thought we would pop down to Gunwharf Quays for the day.

‘We saw some cars pull up and thought “what’s going on?”

‘Then we saw police boats and heard the Queen was on board a yacht, so we waited to see her.’

Gordon, 69, said: ‘I last saw the Queen when Invincible came to the dockyards after the Falklands, I was working in the dockyard.

‘I think that day she was wearing blue. She still looks the same as she did all those years ago and is very sprightly.’

Among the spectators were a group of students from the Czech Republic.

Michael Horky, 17, said: ‘We were here for sightseeing and then we saw the Queen.

‘It was so exciting because we didn’t know she would be here – it was a fantastic experience.

‘When I first saw her coming out of the yacht I didn’t know it was her because she usually wears a hat, and this time she was wearing a scarf on her head.

‘Then the people started clapping their hands - it was great.

‘This has been a fantastic school trip.

‘I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.’

The Leander motor yacht has been moored in Gunwharf Quays Marina since April 30. It has been used by members of the royal family, including Prince Charles.

The Queen last visited Gunwharf Quays in 2002 as part of her jubilee tour.

Centre director Peter Emery said: ‘We are honoured to be able to facilitate this private visit for Her Majesty, and it is testament to the excellent reputation of Gunwharf Quays that we are able to.’