Queen Elizabeth II, when speaking to a team of scientists via a zoom conference marking British Science Week, recalled her meeting with Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel to space. Revealing how he was, the queen prompted some laughter from the scientists.
"What was he like?" asked Dr Aderin-Pocock, who shares a birthday with the iconic cosmonaut, prompting the Queen's response: "Russian!"
As the group of scientists burst into laughter, the queen added that Gagarin could not speak English, but still it was "fascinating" for her to meet him.
"It was very interesting to meet him", the queen said. "He didn't speak English. But no no, he was fascinating. And I suppose being the first one, it was particularly fascinating."
Aderin-Pocock noted that it was Gagarin who inspired her to getting into space science and how "terrifying" it might have been to "be the first one and not knowing what's really going to happen."
"Yes – could you come back again? Very important!", the queen laughed in response.
🌙 Her Majesty recalls meeting the first human to travel into space, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 12, 2021
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who hosted the Science Week session, told The Queen how Gagarin inspired her to pursue a career in space science. pic.twitter.com/IyX5H4wT5n
The UK monarch and the Soviet cosmonaut met in 1961, when Gagarin was on a world tour after successfully returning from the first human space flight. He received a hero's welcome in London and Manchester.
Seven years later, the prominent cosmonaut died in a plane accident during a drill flight.