The Queen vanished during a virtual visit with KPMG staff last night after facing a technical difficulty with the video call.
Her Majesty, 94, who is currently isolating at Windsor Castle amid the Covid-19 crisis, spoke with staff from KPMG as she paid a virtual visit to the company to mark their 150th anniversary.
The royal heard the personal stories of four employees who joined the video call from locations across the UK.
However, during one stage the castle appeared to lose its connection, with the Queen disappearing for a second, before reappearing to say with a smile: ‘You just disappeared, all of you.’
The Queen, 94, showcased her digital prowess during a virtual visit last night after facing a technical difficulty with the video call with KPMG
While speaking with John McCala-Leacy, the royal’s internet connection in Windsor Castle appeared to drop, with the monarch vanishing from the call
The Queen was welcomed to KPMG by Bill Michael, the firm’s UK Chair and Senior Partner, who shared the history of the firm’s support for British business over the last 150 years.
As part of the celebrations, the Big Four firm’s choir performed a special remotely-recorded version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas for the Queen.
The royal was then introduced to four colleagues from London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh to hear about how they are shaping the future of the firm.
In London, The Queen spoke to John McCalla-Leacy, Partner, who was recently elected as KPMG UK’s first black Board member and has spearheaded the firm’s wTork to improve inclusion and diversity.
The Queen was also serenaded by the staff choir at KPMG as she paid a virtual visit to the company to mark their 150th anniversary
During the call, he could be seen speaking to the royal about the pandemic before her face briefly disappeared from the virtual meeting.
Upon her return, John said: ‘I lost you! I wasn’t sure actually if you could hear me.’
Where will the royal family spend Christmas?
Charles and Camilla: Understood to be spending it alone at their home of Highgrove but will see Queen and Phillip ‘at some point’ during the holidays.
They will also see Camilla’s children Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes at some point.
Prince William and Kate Middleton: Could spend Christmas at Anmer Hall, Norfolk or with the Middletons in Berkshire.
The Wessexes: Prince Edward and Sophie are likely to spend Christmas at their home of Bagshot Park in Surrey.
The Yorks: Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson are likely to spend Christmas with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, as well as their husbands Jack Brooksbank and Edo Mapelli Mozzi. They may spend Christmas at the Royal Lodge in Windsor.
Princess Anne: The Princess Royal may spend Christmas with her children Zara Tindall, who is expecting her third child, and Peter Philips and their families on their estate of Gatcombe.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: The Sussexes are spending Christmas in California.
The Queen replied to say everyone else had disappeared, with John adding: ‘Oh that’s terrible!’
John told Her Majesty about the firm’s commitment to diversity initiatives and their continued efforts to further inclusion in the accountancy profession.
As a young athlete, John benefited from support provided by The Prince’s Trust and went on to become an international white-water canoe slalom competitor. Her Majesty and John spoke about his experiences with The Prince’s Trust and how he credits the charity with getting him to where he is today.
John McCalla-Leacy: ‘Ma’am, I’d like to ask that you please pass on my sincere gratitude to HRH The Prince of Wales for The Prince’s Trust.
‘Receiving the support that I did and when I did changed my life and I will never forget it, nor will I cease in my efforts to work with my fellow partners and others to use my position of influence to support and encourage others.’
Her Majesty: ‘I’ll indeed pass it on to my son, who is very proud of the idea of The Prince’s Trust, which I think has helped a lot of people.’
In Liverpool, The Queen heard from Jennifer Lee – KPMG’s youngest Office Senior Partner – about the firm’s support for women in leadership roles.
Jennifer told The Queen about Ethel Watts, the first woman to qualify as an accountant by examination to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1924.
Ethel was hired by KPMG’s founder, Sir William Barclay Peat, and went on to establish her own accountancy firm Ethel Watts & Co, which she led for almost 40 years. Today, over half of KPMG’s UK Board members are women and 27.3% are from a BAME background.
In Edinburgh, The Queen spoke to Cheryl Valentine, who joined KPMG as part of their Forces in the Firm military leavers programme.
Cheryl spoke to The Queen about how the skills and experience she acquired in the military prepared her for supporting the firm’s response to the pandemic this year.
In Glasgow, Her Majesty met David McIntosh, who joined KPMG as an apprentice in 2017.
The royal was then introduced to four colleagues from London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh to hear about how they are shaping the future of the firm. Pictured top row from left, Cheryl Valentine, John McCalla-Leacy, Her Majesty The Queen. Bottom row, from left: David McIntosh, Bill Micheal, and Jennifer Lee
David shared his story of being supported by the Social Mobility Foundation through an Open University course, before joining KPMG’s apprenticeship scheme. Her Majesty also heard about KPMG’s support for their network of 900 apprentices across the UK.
At the end of the virtual visit, Her Majesty watched a special performance of We Wish You A Merry Christmas by the KPMG staff choir, which was pre-recorded to share with The Queen.
The choir, which has been running since 2017 in conjunction with City Music School, has been meeting and practising together online since March.
Her Majesty previously visited KPMG’s offices at Puddle Dock in 1976, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, and opened the firm’s new Canada Square headquarters in 2010.