'I almost ended up on her lap': Supervet describes awkward encounter with Queen

Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick's meeting with the Queen on her birthday turned out to be more than a bit awkward, not just because he had a broken leg.

When he went to be seated for dinner with Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace he had to pass his crutches to the right because he was sitting beside her.

“As I do so the man pushing in my seat hesitates for a moment and, as a result, I lurched forward almost ending up in the Queen's lap. I put my foot forward to break my fall and, in so doing, kicked her handbag under the table”.

Prof Fitzpatrick, who was speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ radio, said they both reached down to pick up the handbag, their heads almost touching.

I said it could have been worse, your majesty, I might have turned up with no trousers!

Earlier, he spoke of having to get a tailor to put a zipper in the side of his suit trousers so he could get them to go over his broken leg.

The tailor did not think they could be ready in time but managed to turn the job around when told that the professor was going to see the Queen.

Prof Fitzpatrick, star of the Channel 4 series, The Supervet, was in Dublin yesterday to promote his book, Listening to the Animals: Becoming the Supervet.

It was while desperately trying to save a newborn lamb on the family farm in Ballyfin, County Laois that Prof Fitzpatrick decided he wanted to be a vet.

In 2005 he set up Fitzpatrick Referrals in Eashing, Surrey, one of the most advanced small animal specialist centres in the world.

His innovative work has saved and improved the lives of countless animals and helped advance science, technology and medicine.

It is a far cry from the time he used to operate on animals on a bale of straw and from the hut that was his first veterinary practice in England.

Prof Fitzpatrick said he trained with three “fantastic” vets in Ireland – Fintan Graham, in Mountrath, Co Laois, Paul Rigney, Birr, Co Offaly and David Smyth in Dunmanway, Co Cork.

He has great belief in apprenticeships: “If you want to be really good, you have to eat a pile of humble pie and listen to mentors who have learned at the coalface and then bury your ego – it has no place in an operating theatre.”

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