Queen Elizabeth II visits British Airways as airline marks 100th anniversary

Queen Elizabeth II visits the headquarters of British Airways at Heathrow, on May 23, 2019, to mark the airline's centenary year. (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/ AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II went to London Heathrow Airport Thursday – not to fly off somewhere but to pay tribute to a British institution only a few years older than she: British Airways.

The monarch, 93, visited the airline’s headquarters, located at the U.K.’s largest airport. The airline is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

She met staffers dressed in “heritage” uniforms dating to the 1930s, examined a model of the headquarters building, and visited the airline’s Heritage Center, which features 100 years’ worth of artifacts, aircraft models and historic photographs.

Dressed in a pale blue coat and dress outfit with a matching hat, the queen shook (gloved) hands with a cross-section of British Airways employees, signed a visitors’ book, unveiled a plaque and received a pretty posy of red, white and blue flowers.

“It’s very patriotic!” she said, according to The Express.

Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the headquarters of British Airways at Heathrow to mark their centenary year, on May 23, 2019. (Photo: Tolga Akmen/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

She was also introduced to volunteers from BA’s community investment program, Flying Start, a global charity partnership with Comic Relief that aims to help children and young people secure better opportunities in life.

Queen Elizabeth II signs the visitor's book during her visit to the headquarters of British Airways at Heathrow, to mark the airline's centenary year, May 23, 2019 in London. (Photo: Tolga Akmen /WPA Pool/ Getty Images)

As per usual, everyone looked delighted with her visit, including her. 

The queen is no stranger to Heathrow, having traveled on hundreds of overseas visits during her 67 years on the throne.

She and husband, Prince Philip, 97, who is now retired, last visited the airport on an official engagement in June 2014 to open Terminal 2, named The Queen’s Terminal.

The Queen arrives at @British_Airways’ headquarters in Heathrow to mark the company’s 100th anniversary. pic.twitter.com/CyUHUkLQ2C

British Airways will turn 100 on August 25th. To mark its centenary, the airline is hosting a range of events to celebrate its history, including outfitting four of its planes in classic designs.

The airline visit was the queen’s second such acknowledgment of British cultural and commercial history of the week: On Wednesday, she marked the 150th anniversary of grocer Sainsbury’s with a visit to a pop-up replica of the company’s original store in London’s Covent Garden district. 

The first Sainsbury’s, located in Drury Lane, sold just three items: butter, milk and eggs. At the pop-up replica, the queen got to examine the wonders of new technology: a self-service checkout machine.

As manager Damien Corcoran showed the queen how to use the self-checkout terminal, she asked whether people tried to “cheat” the machines, The Mirror reported.

With a big smile on her face, she said: “And you can’t trick it? You can’t cheat?”

Queen Elizabeth II views a self-checkout machine during a visit to a replica of an original Sainsbury's stores in Covent Garden in London on May 22, 2019 to mark the grocery company's 150th anniversary. (Photo: JEREMY SELWYN/ AFP/Getty Images)

In fact, it’s been a downright event-packed week for the queen, who also made her customary visit to one of her favorite events, the Chelsea Flower Show, where she visited a garden co-designed by her granddaughter-in-law, Duchess Kate of Cambridge. She also hosted one of her annual summer garden parties at Buckingham Palace, mingling with other members of the royal family and thousands of guests.

The week’s events are typical of the local and regional engagements now undertaken by the queen, who no longer makes long-haul trips outside the United Kingdom. Instead, she relegates the heavy-duty travel to her heir, Prince Charles, and grandsons Prince William and Harry and their wives, Duchesses Kate and Meghan, who have all assumed more of her duties in recent years.

However, the queen will personally host next week’s visit by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, whom she previously met at Windsor Castle in July 2018.

The four-day extravaganza, which kicks off June 3ay, is timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. 

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