Queen suffers video outage during virtual engagement: 'You all just disappeared'

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Queen takes technical glitch in her stride during KPMG virtual visit

The Queen has praised technology for being able to keep people together in a year where they have been “divided up”, despite suffering a technical glitch in the midst of a call.

The Queen, 94, spoke to members of staff from KPMG, as the firm celebrates its 150th anniversary, via a video call from one of the rooms at Windsor Castle.

At one point she was cut off for a few moments, prompting her to exclaim as she returned: “You just disappeared, all of you.”

But as she reappeared she was reassured “we’re still here”.

Speaking to the staff, she sympathised with the ongoing situation of working from home, saying: “Very nice to hear about KPMG’s 150th, it sounds as though it’s all going very well, in spite of all the difficulties.

“It is difficult when people are used to being so close to each other and, and it’s been – you know – everybody’s been divided up so much.”

She added: “Thank goodness for technology, so one can still do this.”

Watch: Queen: ‘Thank goodness for technology’ in ‘difficult’ year

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The Queen also promised to pass on the good wishes of one of KPMG’s board members, John McCalla-Leacy, to her son, the Prince of Wales.

McCalla-Leacy was the first black person to be appointed to the firm’s board, and he thanked Prince Charles for the work of The Prince’s Trust, which gave him support.

He told the Queen about the impact of the pandemic on the company, and of the impact of the killing of George Floyd, which sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests.

He said: “This year was really an incredibly difficult year for us within the firm, within KPMG because not only did we have to adapt to the many challenges that the pandemic brought.

“We also witnessed, like everybody around the world, that just deeply, deeply distressing scenes and the event unfold which ignited the Black Lives Matter campaign right across the world but also here in the UK.”

He then asked the Queen to pass on his best to her son, because The Prince’s Trust helped him early in his sporting career as a white-water canoe slalom competitor.

EMBARGOED TO 2200 TUESDAY DECEMBER 15 Undated handout photo issued by Royal Communications of Queen Elizabeth II talking with (top row) Cheryl Valentine, John McCalla-Leacy, (bottom row left to right) David McIntosh, Bill Michael and Jennifer Lee, during a virtual visit to KPMG last week to mark the firm's 150th anniversary.
The Queen talking to (top row) Cheryl Valentine, John McCalla-Leacy, (bottom row left to right) David McIntosh, Bill Michael and Jennifer Lee, during a virtual visit to KPMG to mark the firm's 150th anniversary. (PA)

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He said: “Receiving the support that I did, and when I did, changed my life and I will never forget this.”

She replied: “I’ll indeed pass it on to my son, who is very proud of the idea of the Prince’s Trust, which I think has helped a lot of people.”

The Queen also met David McIntosh, whose father was a Buckingham Palace guard in the 1980s.

He said: “So meeting with you today, brings me very full circle, I’m so very proud of him and I’m sure he’s so proud of me today.”

She was given a special performance of We Wish You A Merry Christmas by the company choir, dressed in festive jumpers and headwear, at the end of the call.

EMBARGOED TO 2200 TUESDAY DECEMBER 15 Undated handout photo issued by Royal Communications of Queen Elizabeth II during a virtual visit to KPMG last week to mark the firm's 150th anniversary.
The Queen joined the staff on a call from Windsor Castle. (PA/Royal Communications)

Her Majesty has been reduced to seeing her own family via video calls as well during much of this year, though she was able to see three out of her four children and one of her grandsons in a socially distanced carol service at Windsor Castle.

She has decided to have a quiet Christmas, forgoing the option to form a three bubble household with any of her descendants over the five day window offered by the UK government.

Although the younger members of her family have taken the more visible and forward facing roles since the Queen has been forced to shield because of her age, she has tackled engagements virtually, hosted outdoor gatherings within the regulations, and even begun to plan her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, for 2022.

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