For more than 10 years, Taplow station in Berkshire was my main commuting station. Even though it meant using the slow trains I preferred it to nearby Maidenhead because it had a nice atmosphere, and you could usually get a seat on the stopping services. In the normal run of things not much happened at Taplow station. But there was one day of completely unexpected drama. Below is the account I wrote at the time.
This evening I got to Taplow station as per normal, walked out of the station and got stopped by the police. The road was closed off, and along with a small group of other passengers we were all held in a small area in front of the station. There was a Range Rover about 7 or 8 metres away, with more police cars further down the road in either direction. Clearly somebody important was about to pass this way. I guessed a government minister or maybe Theresa May (our local MP). I was being a bit thick. A plain clothed policeman was nearby, but wouldn’t say anything. Nearby a man was getting agitated, saying he had to get to work. He was well pissed off.
Whilst we’d been waiting a train had pulled in to the platform and stopped. But there was no slamming of doors as passengers disembarked, as there usually would be. Then a little old lady appeared at the side exit of the station and tottered slowly towards the Range Rover. It took a moment to clock who she was, and then I virtually shouted: “That’s the Queen!” I’m not usually star struck, but it was quite a thing to see the Queen just around 15 metres away, in an unguarded moment. Next to me the agitated man was decidedly unimpressed, and declared: “I don’t care if it’s fucking Tupac resurrected, I need to get to work!”
The Queen paused to talk to somebody at one of the passenger windows, before gingerly climbing aboard. She seemed impossibly small and frail. I had 3 cameras on me, and I was standing just a few metres from the Monarch, but I hadn’t got a single one in my hand. The moment was missed. So much for my journalistic nose. My only photo is of the Range Rover speeding off down the road, on the way to Windsor. Taplow suddenly made sense: a small, easily secured station close to Windsor Castle. With the Range Rover and escort gone, the security detail began to disperse. As I passed one security guy, he was telling his mates in the Royal Protection squad: “Apparently she’s not as big as Tupac”. A few metres further on I rode past the angry man, and he shouted an ironic “God Save the Queen!” as I rode past.