- Alderman Roger Gifford greeted the Queen and Prince Philip at St Paul's
- As he turned to lead them inside, his sword swung close to Her Majesty
- Unfazed, the Queen smiled with her husband following the mishap
Given that she has just marked 60 years on the throne and attended countless ceremonial occasions, it is probably something of an occupational hazard.
But the Queen, who celebrates her 87th birthday on Sunday, displayed impressive reflexes as she narrowly escaped a collision with a ceremonial sword today.
The monarch, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, had just arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral to make an historic appearance at Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.
Near miss: The Queen (left) speaks to Lord Mayor of London Roger Gifford (right) whose ceremonial sword nearly hit the monarch on the steps of St Paul's cathedral today
Greeting: As the Lord Mayor finishes greeting the Queen, he turns to lead her inside
Danger: But the Lord Mayor's ceremonial sword swings up and nearly strikes the monarch
Close call: Fortunately the sword swings past the Queen as she recoils and doesn't make contact
As she began to walk up the steps she was greeted by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Roger Gifford, resplendent in his ceremonial dress with the Mourning Sword last used at Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral at his side.
After proffering a formal greeting, merchant banker Mr Gifford turned smartly on his heel to lead the royal couple up towards the Great West Door where the Archbishop of Canterbury was waiting.
But as he swung round, the large black steel sword swung wildly towards the sovereign, just missing her face.
The Queen can clearly be seen recoiling backwards before turning towards her laughing husband and making what appeared to be a jokey remark about her near miss.
Fortunately Mr Gifford, 57, a father-of-six from Scotland, was blissfully unaware of the incident and continued with the rest of his duties unabashed.
The Lord Mayor is elected on an annual basis and is an unpaid, non-political position.
The role is, nowadays, primarily to act as an ambassador for all UK-based financial and professional services in the City of London.
One is amused: Luckily the Queen and Prince Philip both saw the funny side of the incident
No harm done: The Queen and Prince Philip were greeted on the steps of the cathedral by the Lord Mayor of London and were to follow him inside when the incident happened, but the Queen appeared unfazed and smiled with her husband about the near miss in the seconds that followed
The Monarch and her husband made their way into St Paul's to take their seats after being greeted by the Lord Mayor of London
A spokesman for Mr Gifford declined to comment.
The Queen’s appearance at her eighth and longest-serving prime minister’s funeral yesterday was unprecedented and taken to be a mark of respect for a woman with whom she did not always see eye to eye.
As a rule, the Queen rarely attends funerals for anyone outside her immediate family.
While she did choose to attend Churchill’s public commemoration in 1965, it was an official state event for a man who had stood shoulder to shoulder with her own beloved father, George V1, during the Second World War.
Although Buckingham Palace had been consulted about the plans for yesterday’s event as far back as 2008, the decision for her to attend was not made until the day after Lady Thatcher’s death when Buckingham Palace was informed that the government intended for it to become a state occasion in all but name.
Safe distance: The Queen is pictured a little further away from the ceremonial sword with her head bowed during the service
Friendly: The Queen shakes hands warmly with Mr Gifford at the end of the ceremony forgetting the earlier mishap
For the Queen and her aides, it now wasn’t just an issue of whether she should attend such a ‘unique’ occasion, but how it would look to the public if she didn’t - particularly given talk of their occasionally less than easy relationship.
As usual, the Queen conducted herself faultlessly and while she chose not to arrive before Lady Thatcher’s family as a mark of respect as she did for Churchill - protocol normally dictates the Queen is the last to arrive and the first to leave - she did choose to show her esteem in a different way.
There was a small, almost imperceptible, nod as her former prime minister’s coffin passed following the service.
Then the monarch quietly, and without fanfare, waited for the Baroness’s immediate family to make their way down the cathedral steps and watch in quiet contemplation as the coffin was re-loaded onto the waiting hearse.
Royal sympathies: The Queen also spoke with Baroness Thatcher's family including her children Sir Mark and Carol after the ceremony
Only then did she follow them, stopping for a minute on the steps to chat and proffer her condolences with a warm and friendly smile.
She clearly greeted each member of the family group - son, Sir Mark, and daughter Carole, who were accompanied by their respective partners, as well as her grand-children Michael and Amanda - personally.
Amanda, who less than an hour earlier had set the scene for the event with a reading that showed a dignity beyond her years, offered a particularly elegant curtsy.
No other member of the Royal Family was present for the simple reason that there was no requirement for them to do so (which for Prince Charles, who is currently holidaying in Scotland, was no doubt something of a blessed relief as he disagreed inherently with much she had to say).
Indeed the only other guest with strong royal links was - somewhat incongruously - Sarah, Duchess of York, whose ex-husband, Prince Andrew, served in the Falklands War.