Rarely can a little girl’s big moment have turned from triumph to disaster in such a fleeting moment.
Six-year-old Maisie Gregory had spent the last month counting down the hours until the moment she was to present a posy to the British Queen during a royal visit to Cardiff.
When the day finally arrived, she put on her Welsh national costume and carried off the perfect curtsey as she handed over the flowers to a delighted Queen, who told her: “How pretty you are. God bless you.”
But only seconds later Maisie was in tears after a soldier standing next to her raised his arm to salute the monarch, and in doing so clipped her in the face and knocked off her wide-brimmed bonnet.
After a moment of shock, the tears came, by which time the Queen, who had not seen what happened, had already moved on.
The mortified sentry rushed over to apologise as the youngster was comforted by a relative.
Maisie, from Tonypandy, south Wales, had been chosen for the task because her father, Regimental Sergeant Major Martin Gregory, was one of the soldiers receiving the Royal Welsh Regiment’s new colours from the Queen during a ceremony at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Maisie’s mother Joanne Gregory, 36, said later: “Maisie is fine, she is just very tired and got a shock.
“We are all overwhelmed at meeting the Queen."
During the ceremony the Queen road-tested a brand-new “Popemobile”-style Range Rover, standing up in its cut-out rear section as she waved to the 7,000-strong crowd.
The British Review Vehicle, which is the fourth open-backed car made for the Queen by Land Rover since 1953, is a hybrid that can run entirely on electric power for short distances.
The Queen, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, inspected some of its 600 soldiers from the back of the vehicle, and in a short speech paying tribute to their service in recent conflicts, said: “These operations were conducted in the most testing of circumstances and it is with considerable pride in you that I say that you rose magnificently to the challenges that you faced, in the way that your forebears have always done, with conviction, good humour and courage.”