The Queen and Prince Philip yesterday welcomed Kate Middleton’s parents to lunch at Windsor Castle to ‘break the ice’ before next week’s wedding.
A senior royal source said of the meeting: ‘It was a lovely lunch, very warm with lots of laughter and I think helped put everyone at ease.
It is the first time that Michael and Carole Middleton have met the Queen. The meal started at 1pm and lasted just under an hour and half – Her Majesty has never been one to linger long over lunch.
Also present were a handful of household staff including the Queen’s private secretary and equerry.
Afterwards the Middletons drove back to their home in nearby Bucklebury, Berkshire.
Neither William or Kate was invited to the gathering. The prince is on duty as an RAF search and rescue pilot in north Wales while his fiancée was yesterday shopping on the King’s Road in London for the second day running.
Kate did not meet the Queen until May 2008 – five years after she and William started dating. She was finally presented to her at the wedding of Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips, to Autumn Kelly.
They have since met on a handful of occasions, when the Queen is said to have been ‘warm and welcoming’.
The Mail understands that she had been keen to meet her grandson’s future in-laws since his engagement was announced and the lunch was scheduled in her diary for some time.
‘Her Majesty thought it would be a nice gesture and was genuinely keen to meet them,’ said a source .
As she celebrates her 85th birthday today, the Queen is as ‘happy as anyone has ever seen her’.
Senior royal sources told the Mail that she is delighted at the way her family finally appears to be settled after almost two decades of rancour and heartache. She is said to be looking forward to next week’s wedding ‘immensely’ and pleased that initial plans for her Diamond Jubilee appear to have been welcomed by the public.