The Queen condemned the ‘very wicked’ Manchester terror attack as she visited young survivors during a visit to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital today.
The monarch, 91, spent time speaking to Millie Robson, 15, Evie Mills, 14, and Amy Barlow, 12, who were among the the 12 children rushed to the hospital in the aftermath of Monday night’s atrocity.
Speaking to Evie, a schoolgirl from Harrogate, Yorkshire, on the hospital ward, the Queen said: ‘It’s dreadful. Very wicked. To target that sort of thing.’
She also thanked hospital staff and paramedics who worked tirelessly to keep the children alive in the hours after the tragedy, and told them of her shock, saying: ‘The awful thing was that everyone was so young.’
Fourteen children remain at the hospital, including five in critical care. A total of 75 people were admitted to eight hospitals following the attack at Manchester Arena.
An eight-year-old girl was among those killed when Salman Abedi, 22, detonated an improvised explosive device minutes after pop star Ariana Grande finished performing at the venue on Monday night.
Over more than 60 years, the Queen has stepped in to provide comfort for the victims of conflict, disasters and terror attacks. From servicemen injured in the Second World War to the victims of the 7/7 bombing, the Queen has often visited hospitals in the aftermath of tragedy to show solidarity with her subjects in their hour of need.
Today was no exception as the monarch reassured the young victims and their families, and shared in their horror as they recounted their stories of how they escaped the blast alive.
Millie Robson, from Co Durham, who was wearing an Ariana Grande concert t-shirt in her hospital bed, told the Queen how she had met the pop star backstage before the event after winning VIP passes in a competition.
She was on her way to meet her father, David, at the arena exit when the bomb was detonated. Addressing David, the Queen said: ‘It’s not something you expect at all’ and described the atrocity as ‘very alarming’.
Millie praised the hospital staff to the monarch, saying they have been ‘fantastic’. The Queen replied: ‘That is really splendid.’
The schoolgirl later described how her father had rushed to her side in the minutes after the ‘scary’ explosion and tied jumpers around her legs to stem the blood flow from two wounds caused by shrapnel from the bomb.
Father David said: ‘We were at the top of the stairs and my partner saw them come out and started waving at them and running towards us and there was just this boom. It was white and just surreal.
‘I saw Millie at the bottom of the stairs and ran down and picked her up.’
Millie later said it had been ‘surreal’ to meet the monarch’.
Meanwhile Evie Mills told the monarch how she had been given the concert tickets as a birthday present. The Queen said she thought Ariana Grande was a ‘very good singer’, adding: ‘She sounds very, very good.’
She also said: ‘It was a dreadful thing. Very wicked to target that sort of thing,’ referring to the concert.
The Queen also visited Amy Barlow, 12, from Helmshore, Lancashire, on the ward. Mother Cathy said she had not left her daughter’s side since she was caught up in the attack on Monday.
Together with father Grant, the group discussed the incredible community response to the atrocity.
She had also been due to meet 12-year-old Emily Murrell, however she was taken into surgery shortly before the royal visit.
Mother Ruth Murrell told the Queen that she and a friend had been waiting to collect their daughters from the arena when the bomb was detonated. Ruth was injured when ‘nuts and bolts’ from the improvised device struck her leg. Her friend did not survive.
Speaking to the monarch, Ruth said it was ‘inspiring’ to see how the children were coping with their recovery.
‘When you see these young children, you just say “Oh my goodness, you need to get a grip here and a battle on”,’ she said. She also told the Queen the visit ‘meant a lot’.
Earlier, the Queen described her shock at the targeting of young victims as she met several groups of clinicians, doctors, nurses and porters – all of whom had contributed to the emergency effort.
‘The awful thing was that everyone was so young. The age of them,’ she told one member of staff.
She learnt about the role each had played on the night – including how many had come in from home to offer their help – and commended them for ‘coming together’.
The royal visitor, who was wearing a blue coat and orange hat, was met by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester Warren Smith as she arrived.
Her visit came shortly after staff gathered outside the hospital for a minute’s silence, when they remembered those who had lost their lives, before bursting into spontaneous applause.
The silence, which fell at 11am, also marked the nation’s solidarity with the 119 who were injured in the blast at the Manchester Arena following a concert, as well as others affected by the atrocity.
Crowds also gathered at well-known sites in the UK, including London’s Parliament and Trafalgar Square. In Manchester thousands of residents gathered at St Ann’s Square to honour the victims of the terror attack.