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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 10:07 GMT
Learner delays Queen's visit
The Queen at RAF Marham
The Queen was on her way to the base at Marham
A learner driver delayed the Queen's limousine - making her late for the first engagement of her Golden Jubilee year.

Her Majesty's car became stuck behind 19-year-old learner driver Sarah Proctor as the Queen headed for an appointment at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

It led to the Queen missing the start of a flypast in her honour at the base.

But novice motorist Miss Proctor, who was having her 10th lesson, said: "It was, perhaps, the most unreal experience in my life.

Sarah Proctor
Learner Sarah Proctor: "It was an unreal experience"

"I could see her hat but I could not see her.

"It was really, really weird - it was not what you expect to see everyday, the Queen behind you on your driving lesson."

The royal car was on the A47 when it was slowed down by the learner.

Miss Proctor's instructor Martin Underwood said: "Sarah was absolutely fine, moving along at the required speed.

"It is a very difficult road to overtake and there are not very many passing places."

Motorcade delayed

Hundreds of youngsters had to wait about five minutes because of the delay to the motorcade.

The flypast of a Canberra reconnaissance aircraft and four Tornado fighter bombers, timed for exactly 1102 GMT, had to make a second run.

They circled about five miles from the base before flying overhead at 1,000 feet just as the Queen stepped out of her car.

The Queen was on her way from her Sandringham home in Norfolk to the base near King's Lynn for the first engagement of her Jubilee Year.

Her driver first had to contend with a tractor for almost two miles, then encountered the learner driver in her Vauxhall Corsa.

After arriving late, the Queen talked to the pupils, and spent an hour viewing exhibitions of aircraft and weaponry on display in the hangar of the RAF base.

The Queen, visiting RAF Marham in her capacity as Honorary Air Commodore, saw the base for the first time since the completion of a 45m expansion for two extra Tornado squadrons from Germany.

The BBC's Max Flint
"The Queen missed a flypast in her honour"
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