Security was tested - and breached - for the first time Sunday on the royal tour of Canada.
The rules of royal protocol keep onlookers behind barricades and require the media to stay at least five metres away from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. But the RCMP officers who guard the royal couple seemed reluctant to stop a woman who broke free of the waiting throng outside a church service and ambled right up to the Queen with a black plastic bag in hand.
The Queen, who moments earlier had stepped into the sunlight after a morning service at St. James Cathedral in downtown Toronto, appeared to take the unplanned encounter in stride. She smiled and chatted with the woman. The woman then handed the Queen the bag and said a few words to the Duke of Edinburgh before being ushered away.
The contents of the bag, in the end, were not dangerous: The Queen left with a commemorative St. James Cathedral tea towel.
Still, the incident raises questions about the level of security around the royal couple, who have been moving through large crowds in Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Toronto. On Monday, they visit Waterloo and return to Toronto before leaving the country on Tuesday.
RCMP spokesman Sergeant Marc LaPorte, who was present on Sunday, said security protocols will be revisited in the future to consider a more controlled setting for the Queen. There's a "fine balance" between giving the public access and making sure the Queen is protected, he said.
"Initially, it was not seen as a threat. Obviously there was a security breach there," Sgt. LaPorte said.
"But the RCMP always tries to balance the protection of the protected person, in this case the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, with public access."
Security has been heavy throughout the royal couple's visit. At Woodbine Racetrack Sunday, where the Queen attended the 151st running of the Queen's Plate, the walking ring was surrounded by a G20-like security fence. Barricades restricted access around the track, police presence was heavy and there was a bag check at every entrance.
The security did not deter hundreds who strained their necks and stood on tip-toes hoping for a glimpse of the Queen.
The Queen's Plate was incident-free - although a hand placed on the royal back by Dom Romeo, owner of the winning mount, appears to have tested protocol again.
The Queen, a racing enthusiast, did not appear tired despite the sweltering heat. She changed outfits twice on Sunday, wearing a turquoise patterned blue dress and a matching hat to church, and then white gloves, an aqua dress and a hat to the races. She appeared to keep a close eye on the race, watching it calmly even as others rose from their seats to cheer. She then graciously walked along a red carpet across the track to the winner's circle to present the owner, trainer and jockey with the trophy. Sunday marked her fourth visit to the Queen's Plate.
Onlookers packed every corner of the stadium, cameras at the ready, hoping the Queen would pass by.
Shari Simpson was one of a few who managed to snapped a picture as the Queen strolled by the walking circle. Ms. Simpson attended the Kentucky Derby, and was eager to see the Queen this year.
"Kentucky was fun," she said. "But this is royalty."