The Queen appears to have given in to calls to intervene in the Scottish independence campaign, urging Scots to "think very carefully" about their vote on Thursday.
In an apparently stage-managed encounter, members of the press were invited to observe the monarch as she spoke to well-wishers outside the church she attends near Balmoral yesterday.
A police sergeant asked journalists waiting 200 yards away to approach the Queen as she was speaking to people gathered outside.
Asked by a member of the public about the referendum, she replied: "You have an important vote on Thursday"
"Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future."
The minister at the church confirmed that it was unusual for the Queen to address the public in such a way.
"The Queen did go on a bit of a walkabout, which is a really quite unusual thing for her to do," Rev Ken MacKenzie told the Telegraph.
"I don't know what she said, but I heard something similar reported. I think it was a recognition of the fact that this was an important time for the nation."
Buckingham Palace have repeatedly resisted calls for the Queen to make a formal intervention in the independence debate.
However, palace insiders insist the Queen is passionately in favour of retaining the union with Scotland.
"The Queen respects the will of the Scottish people and she will work with them whatever the result," one source said.
"But she wants to make sure people have thought about the long-term repercussions of breaking up the union."
The Queen's intervention comes as the Better Together campaign make their last ditch attempts to save the union, ahead of Thursday's vote.
David Beckham is the latest high profile figure to be unveiled in support of the campaign.
In an open letter to Scots, Beckham today wrote of his "pride and passion" at representing the UK during the Olympic bid.
"I took as much satisfaction in seeing Sir Chris Hoy or Andy Murray win gold as I did watching Jess Ennis and Mo Farah do the same in the Olympic Stadium," he added.
The high profile interventions come as David Cameron makes his final visit to Scotland before the referendum.
The prime minister will tell voters there will be "no going back" from a 'Yes' vote on Thursday.
"This is a decision that could break up our family of nations, and rip Scotland from the rest of the UK," he will say.
"And we must be very clear. There's no going back from this. No re-run. If Scotland votes "yes" the UK will split and we will go our separate ways forever."
Cameron's comments have been underlined by Alex Salmond.
The first minister has dismissed suggestions that the SNP would call for another referendum even if 'No' win by a small margin.
He told reporters that Thursday's vote was a "once in a generation" chance for Scots to gain independence from the UK.