Power cut fails to stop Queen’s tea and cakes date with Women’s Institute
Police provided hot urns to ensure that tea was in plentiful supply at West Newton village hall.
The Queen enjoyed tea and cakes with members of her local Women’s Institute in a pitch-dark village hall after the power went out earlier in the day.
Each year the Queen visits WI members at West Newton village hall as part of her winter stay on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
Yvonne Browne, chairman of Sandringham WI, said the decision was taken to go ahead with the event despite the lack of heating or lighting, and that they were still able to make cups of tea as police brought them urns of hot water.
She added that the Queen saw the funny side, and was “laughing and smiling” as she enjoyed some sweet treats.
“You could say it’s been very interesting,” she said. “This morning the power went off at 11 minutes past six and all through the morning we had information ‘it’s on in an hour, it’s on in an hour’ so I took the decision we’d go ahead regardless.
“I had calls with the house and the Queen’s private secretary said ‘yes, if you’re happy to go ahead we’re happy to go ahead’.
“So Her Majesty valiantly came along to the WI this afternoon with no heating and no lighting and we were supplied with urns of water by the police to make the tea so we were actually able to provide everyone with a cup of tea.
“And of course the Queen came in and she was laughing and smiling with everybody sort of making remarks on the fact she couldn’t really see us because it’s quite dark, it’s darker in the hall than it is outside.
“We’ve had a really lovely afternoon despite no heat or light.”
The Queen arrived at the village hall in a Range Rover and was wearing a pink coat and carrying a black handbag.
The WI members were joined by regional BBC news presenter Susie Fowler-Watt, this year’s guest speaker.
Ms Fowler-Watt, who is a presenter on BBC Look East, said she was “incredibly honoured and excited” to be invited, and her 12-year-old daughter Lola presented the Queen with a posy afterwards.
The Queen joined the Sandringham branch of the WI in 1943 when she was still Princess Elizabeth and attends each year.
Ms Fowler-Watt said the power cut was “because of the storm” and it was “great fun” having tea in the darkness.
“It’s been such a huge privilege to be asked to be part of this and to have it happen in these circumstances has made it even more fun and even more memorable,” she said.
“The Queen was fantastic. She came in and she immediately cracked a joke about the fact it was so dark and no-one could really see anything.
“She sat throughout the whole thing as she always does and she stayed for tea with everybody even though we couldn’t really see who we were even sitting with at tea.
“She was just amazingly as stalwart as ever about the whole thing and the atmosphere was fabulous because everyone was just ‘let’s enjoy this even though we’re in the darkness’.”
She said she could “just about see (her) notes” while giving her talk, which was mostly about her job as a news presenter.