Joined by her husband, the hapless Duke of Edinburgh, the British Queen took a tour of the Bank’s vaults full of thousands of slabs of gold worth billions of pounds.
The royal couple signed a million pound note each for the Bank’s guest book and the Queen look intrigued as she was shown the very first banknote she had signed for the guest book on November 29, 1937 as an 11-year-old.
The signature was a simple “Elizabeth” written in a neat young girl’s script on a thousand pound note in the book.
On signing the note today, the Queen said of her signature: “It hasn’t improved much you know.”
It is the Queen’s eighth visit to the Bank of England and she finally received the answer to her question on why nobody had saw the financial crisis coming.
In November 2008, at the height of the global downturn, the Queen had asked academics at the London School of Economics: “Why did nobody notice it?” and described the crisis as “awful”.
Today, on a visit to the Bank of England with the Duke of Edinburgh, she got a thorough answer from Sujit Kapadia from the Bank’s Financial Services Committee.
Mr Kapadia apparently gave the Queen three reasons why it happened.
He told her that financial crises were like earthquakes and flu pandemics and, because they are rare events, they are difficult to predict.
Bank Governor Sir Mervyn King said in an address: “You will have seen today how much your visit has meant to all of us at the Bank.”
“The people you met today are really the unsung heroes, the people that kept not just the banking system but the economy as a whole functioning in the most challenging of circumstances.
“And there would be no greater appreciation of their work than your visit here today.”
The royal couple were applauded by banking staff as they walked out of the building in central London and the Queen was presented with flowers by two children of staff.
As the Queen walked out of the building towards a large crowd of people waiting outside, she said of her visit: “Very interesting, isn’t it?”
Beneath the Bank of England in London lies 4,600 tons of gold. The Bank’s precious metal reserves, worth £197 billion ($315bn) according to the mostly recently published figures, are rarely seen by outsiders.