Queen opens new elephant centre; meets calf named after her

Arriving with Prince Philips, The Queen's first engagement will be at Whipsnade Zoo where she will unveil a plaque to mark the formal opening of the Elephant Centre.

The Queen fed a banana to one elephant named Donna, and looked highly amused when the seven-year-old animal extended her trunk asking for another banana.

Professor David Field, director of the Zoological Society of London, said that Her Majesty was "absolutely delighted" to discover Elizabeth the elephant was named in her honour.

The Queen, who is Patron of global conservation charity ZSL, which runs Whipsnade Zoo, will enjoy a private tour of the Centre before unveiling a commemorative plaque alongside The Duke - former president of ZSL - during a special ceremony.

The 72stone (460kg) Asian elephant - who keepers say loves to play fight - plucked one piece of fruit out of the Queen's hand before picking a second from Prince Philip's.

She added: "It's a rather nice change for them, I suppose".

Wearing a lilac and pistachio summer tweed coat by Stewart Parvin and hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, the Queen received the flawless finishing touch to her outfit in the form of a bouquet of purple and white flowers from four-year-old Arthur Craft, the son of Whipsnade's general manager, Owen. The royals were introduced to vets and zoo keepers and shown around the arena.

The Queen is set to pay a special visit to Whipsnade Zoo and newly developed apartments in Bedfordshire today.

"If you go in there now when they're getting food, they just start to rumble happily and you just see the wavelengths going on".

  • Salvatore Jensen