Queen’s ‘biggest mistake’ of her reign – and she still thinks about tragic day

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The Queen’s comforting and supporting words have helped Britain through of its darkest days.

She’s addressed the nation during wars, tragic deaths and most recently the coronavirus pandemic.

But there was one occasion when she decided to stay quiet – and it’s a decision she considers one of her biggest regrets from her reign.

In 1966, the small town Aberfan in Wales changed forever in a matter of minutes when a devastating mining accident wiped out a generation.

116 children and 28 adults were killed.

However, the Queen didn’t visit the village in the immediate aftermath – a decision she would always regret.

She feared she would be a distraction from the rescue effort, however people believed the community needed her words of comfort.

She reportedly said: “People will be looking after me, so perhaps they will miss some poor child that might have been found in the wreckage.”

Eight days later, she finally made the trip and met the mourning families trying to come to terms with what had happened.

Sir Mansel Aylward was one of the rescuers who desperately tried to save the children, many of whom died sitting at their desks.

Speaking on Channel 5 documentary The Queen: In Her Own Words, he said: “She walked towards some children, and I was close enough to see her face.

“It seemed there was a chance in her deminar.

“Her face filled up as if she was going to cry, then she moved a finger to the side of her eye and one of two tears came down.

“It was very poignant when she met the children.”

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, told the programme : “She did say to her private secretary I feel that one of the biggest mistakes of my reign was not getting to Aberfan sooner.”

Royal biographer Hugo Vickers: “She realised that actually people did want to see her, and she could do something which was very important and that rather special, that other people couldn’t do.

“It is really the ultimate sort of respect that can be paid to that community by the Soverign.

“That’s very important, you can’t underestimate that.”

In the years since the disaster, the Queen has made several visits to the village and written letters to residents.

When the Queen and Philip returned to the village in 1997, the Monarch got chatting to Jeff Edwards.

Jeff was a schoolboy in Aberfan at the time of the traffic accident, and still remembers hearing the devastating screams.

He explains: “She’s very easy to speak to, she’s very good at engaging with people.

“She asks me what I was doing at that particular time.

“I had returned to Aberfan because of the problems that we had with young people who would have traditionally gone into the mining industry, who had basically turned to alcohol and drugs.”

Two weeks later, Jeff got a call for Buckingham Palace asking for details of their project.

Jeff said: “She wanted to make a personal donation to the project.”

“She saw the sorrow of those individuals who lost children in the disaster.

“She saw the harm it caused to survivors. She’s been part of the journey over 54 years.”

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