Queen quietly confessed she was 'wrong' in one of her biggest regrets during reign

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Queen paid special tribute to Philip’s military career in speech

Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for a lengthy 69 years — the longest any monarch has sat on the throne in British royal history. In this time she has witnessed some of modern history’s biggest breakthroughs and pitfalls, some of the most scarring disasters and tragedies. While her reign has been one marked by success, she was never supposed to be Queen at all.

Born in 1926, she was the daughter of King George V’s second son, and had little expectation of succeeding the throne until her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936.

Her father took the throne, and, when he died in 1953 she took his place at the age of 25.

Ever since, she has served the UK at home and abroad, travelling the world and overseeing the Commonwealth.

While little has gone wrong during her years, she is reported to have at least two major regrets from her time at the helm.

Queen: Her Majesty is said to regret at least two things during her reign

Queen: Her Majesty is said to regret at least two things during her reign (Image: GETTY)

Reign: Her reign is the longest of any British monarch

Reign: Her reign is the longest of any British monarch (Image: GETTY)

One of these regrets made its way into popular culture when Netflix’s The Crown laid bare Her Majesty’s guilt over her response to the 1964 Aberfan disaster.

Penny Junor, a royal biographer, writing in her 2005 book, ‘The Firm’, revealed how memories of the accident, which saw 116 children and 28 adults die after the collapse of a colliery spoil tip, pained her.

While Prince Philip visited the site the day after, and her brother-in-law, Lord Snowdon, who was of Welsh heritage, headed there early that next morning, the Queen delayed her visit, allegedly over fears that her presence would be a distraction to the rescue efforts.

As Ms Junor wrote: “The Queen is said to regret her delay in visiting Aberfan in 1966, recognising in hindsight that it was a mistake not to be there immediately to comfort the grieving and express her sorrow.”

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Aberfan disaster: A total of 144 people died in what was considered a preventable disaster

Aberfan disaster: A total of 144 people died in what was considered a preventable disaster (Image: GETTY)

She added: “I suspect she regrets her instincts during that week after Diana’s death, too.”

The Queen arrived at Aberfan eight days later to tour the site and speak with victims’ families.

During The Crown’s dramatisation of the events, Prime Minister Harold Wilson is seen chastising her for her decision.

But, photographs from the visit show the Queen with a solemn expression on her face, appearing rattled by the devastation of the spill.

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Delay: It took the Queen eight days to visit the site

Delay: It took the Queen eight days to visit the site (Image: GETTY)

Tragedy: An aerial view of the spill

Tragedy: An aerial view of the spill (Image: GETTY)

Aberfan would not be the only event which saw her feel regret.

According to Richard Kay, a royal author, Her Majesty also lamented the way in which she reacted to the Lockerbie disaster.

Also known as the Lockerbie bombing, all 259 people aboard the Pan American World Airways flight died when their airliner exploded over the Scottish town.

A bomb on board was detonated and sent the plane spiralling out of control, also killing 11 people on the ground.

Monarchs: Some of the country's longest-serving monarchs

Monarchs: Some of the country’s longest-serving monarchs (Image: Express Newspapers)

Muammer Gaddafi, the former President of Libya, took responsibility for the bombing in 2003 but maintained that he never authorised it.

While the Queen and Philip visited the site in later years, her decision not to go at the time was made worse when her son, Prince Andrew, visited the mourning townspeople and upset them.

As Mr Kay explained: “When Pan Am flight 103 and its passengers were blown up and fell on the luckless town of Lockerbie a few days before Christmas 1988, the Queen’s then deputy private secretary Robert Fellowes urged her to go there.

“But as with the Aberfan disaster 22 years earlier, when a sliding coal tip crashed onto the Welsh village near Merthyr Tydfil, killing 144 people, most of them children, the Queen decided not to visit immediately fearing she would be a distraction from the desperate recovery work.

Lockerbie bombing: The tragic event saw the Queen again regret her decision

Lockerbie bombing: The tragic event saw the Queen again regret her decision (Image: GETTY)

“She could have asked any of her four children to go to Lockerbie in her stead, but she chose Andrew.

“He was not a good choice.

“Not only did he upset the people of Lockerbie – where 11 residents were killed on the ground – by declaring that it was ‘much worse for the Americans’ (259 passengers and crew were on the U.S. airliner) but he added that it had been ‘only a matter of time’ before a plane fell out of the sky.

“A few days later she told Fellowes: ‘I was wrong [about Lockerbie] – I wish I had gone.'”



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