Queen chuckles upon hearing RAF gunner's car-pushing lockdown workout

15 July 2020, 00:23

Queen most amused by sailor's lockdown training regime

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Queen shared a chuckle with an RAF gunner after hearing about his car-pushing lockdown workout.

Lance Corporal Shanwayne Stephens, a member of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, told the monarch how he had been pushing a car up and down the streets during the coronavirus lockdown in place of his usual training regime.

Upon hearing his story, the Queen remarked "Oh", while looking surprised, before sharing a laugh with the serviceman.

"Well I suppose that's one way to train," the Queen added, chuckling.

Her conversation with LCpl Stephens came as the monarch carried out her second official virtual royal engagement, holding a video call from Windsor Castle with members of the Armed Forces based across the globe.

The Queen replied "Gosh, Sounds a very dangerous job" when LCpl Stephens told her he was the pilot of the Jamaican bobsleigh squad.

She asked: "So how do you train?", prompting him to tell her about his unorthodox methods.

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The Queen chuckled upon hearing the serviceman's training regime
The Queen chuckled upon hearing the serviceman's training regime. Picture: PA

LCpl Stephens, of the Queen's Colour Squadron, was one of three military personnel who spoke to the monarch last week as she heard about the work they were carrying out at home and overseas as the coronavirus crisis continues.

The Queen, whose sign-in name on the screen was "Windsor UK", told them: "Everybody's been extremely busy with the pandemic and doing a wonderful job."

LCpl Stephens said afterwards: "She had a big smile on her face when I said about pushing the car.

"I think she was quite impressed with that."

Asked if the Queen had backed his bid to compete at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, he laughed and replied: "I'll have to send her a T-shirt."

Jamaica-born LCpl Stephens, who joined the RAF in 2011 and is based at RAF Northolt, is trained in forced protection with specialisation as a sniper.

The athlete made headlines during lockdown by pushing his fiancee Amy's Mini Cooper around Peterborough to keep up his fitness.

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With echoes of the 1993 film Cool Runnings, he also set up a temporary weights rack in his garden to train with his teammate Nimroy Turgott, who isolated with him when lockdown began in March.

LCpl Stephens said: "We had to come up with our own creative ways to get our training done to be ready for our competitive season which starts in November."

He said of the royal video-call: "It was a bit strange, I've been in close proximity with the Queen on quite a few occasions but never actually had a face-to-face conversation with her - well, screen-to-screen.

"She just said it had been a hard time and it was nice to keep in contact with everybody."

He added: "She seemed very relaxed and in fact she made me feel a bit more relaxed when she came on. She was really smiley."

The Queen spoke to representatives from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter.

From the Army was Lieutenant Colonel Barrie Terry of The Yorkshire Regiment, who is deployed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in Bamako, Mali.

"It was a novel experience from Mali, I think for her as well.

"The internet connection held up, which was good," he said.

Lt Col Terry said of the Queen: "I think she took to the technology really well, she was very happy, very au fait with it."

The 47-year-old has not seen his family back in Gloucester since November as two periods of leave were cancelled because of travel restrictions, but he is due back in the UK next month.

His wife Anya is working for the NHS Trust in Gloucester, training healthcare professionals and return to practice nurses, and looking after their two sons Theo, 15, and 11-year-old Arthur.

Lt Col Terry said the Queen understood the separation that comes with serving in the military.

"I think with her background, she's used to her grandchildren and her children at various stages of their life being away due to service in the armed forces, especially with Prince Philip," he said.

"I think she's familiar with the family separation that service life brings."

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The Queen also spoke to Able Rate Sophie Levy, 22, who joined the call from her first operational deployment on board RFA Argus off Curacao in the Caribbean.

The ship was deployed in April to help British Overseas Territories during the pandemic, and will remain in the Caribbean over the summer to provide support for the annual hurricane season.

The Queen remarked: "So this is your first deployment is it? ... Sounds as though you're rather busy."

AB Levy, from Windsor, said afterwards: "I called from a cabin on board so she was able to see what life on board is like and how we live on Argus.

"She could see my photos in the background of my family."

She previously met the monarch in 2014 as a 16-year-old Sea Cadet when she escorted her around Holyport College.

"Her Majesty brought it up this morning and it was a nice personal connection to bring it up that I had met her all those years ago."

Social distancing restrictions mean that the ship's crew is currently unable to spend free time ashore.

"The Queen spoke... about my job, and that we haven't been able to get off and that it must be quite a difficult time," she said.