The author continues: “‘As a mother, I’m trying to understand what your feelings must be,’ she said, tearing up.
“‘I’m sorry I can give you nothing at present except sympathy.’
“Responses to a tragedy of this size can’t be considered a matter of protocol or tradition or policy.
“They should be spontaneous – as demonstrated by Tony.”
Mr Irving goes on: “But the Queen was unable to react spontaneously as he had. Something paralysed her.
“The phrase ‘I’m trying to understand what your feelings must be’ was stark in its self-confession and spoke to a rigidity in her emotions.
“She could not, at least, be accused of making a calculated public relations decision.
“Later the palace said she feared her presence would have got in the way of the rescue effort. But, as her advisers knew, it was a PR disaster.”