EXCLUSIVE: Albanian who smuggled himself into Britain hidden into the back of a truck reveals how he served lunch to Queen and Prince Philip

  • Ismet Shehu travelled across Europe before clambering under a UK-bound lorry
  • The 32-year-old went on to take a university course in hospitality and catering
  • He was among five students who waited on the late Queen during the Jubilee

An Albanian who entered Britain hidden inside the back of a truck has revealed how he served lunch to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

Ismet Shehu, 32, travelled across Europe before clambering under a lorry which was bound for the UK and was granted permission to stay in the country after handing himself over to Home Office officials.

He went on to take a university course in hospitality and catering and was among a group of five students who waited on the late Queen and her husband during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Ismet Shehu, 32, (pictured) travelled across Europe before clambering under a lorry which was bound for the UK. He went on to take a university course in catering and was among a group of five students who waited on the late Queen and her husband during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations

Ismet, who has now returned to Albania, and set up a chain of restaurants in the capital Tirana, told MailOnline: ‘Can you imagine that? A poor boy from the countryside serving lunch to the Queen of England?’ Pictured: The late Queen and Prince Philip attending the lunch served by Ismet and his West London University classmates 

Ismet, who has now returned to Albania, and set up a chain of restaurants in the capital Tirana, told MailOnline: ‘Can you imagine that? A poor boy from the countryside serving lunch to the Queen of England?

‘It was such an honour for me to do that and all just a couple of years after getting into the country hiding in the back of a lorry. It was the most frightening experience of my life.’

Ismet, was just 17, when he left Albania and made his way through Italy to the French city of Lille where he waited with dozens of other migrants looking for a way into Britain.

His chance eventually came when a lorry with UK plates was pointed out to him at a truck stop and he crawled underneath and hid in a tiny gap by the wheels, curling himself into a tiny ball.

Ismet (pictured), was just 17, when he left Albania and made his way through Italy to the French city of Lille where he waited with dozens of other migrants looking for a way into Britain

A thank you letter from Buckingham Palace sent to the students who served lunch to the Queen and Prince Philip 

Ismet said: ‘All I knew was it had a British registration number so I hid under it and when it started I just hold for my life, knowing that if I let go and fell onto the motorway I would be dead.

‘Once on the ferry I jumped out and with a knife I cut open the trailer and I hid inside and I didn’t get out until more than four hours later when I was in the UK.

‘I phoned my cousin and he asked me where I was but I had no idea so he told me to get the postcode of where I was, I went into a shop and gave the phone to the man and he gave the postcode to my cousin.

‘It was only when he came to pick me up later that I knew I was somewhere near Manchester but my cousin was in London. I was worried that someone would say something or call the police but no one did and I was safe.’

Ismet found work on construction sites earning £7 an hour before finding a job as a kitchen porter and glass collector in various pubs and restaurants across west London before eventually handing himself over to the Home Office

Fifteen years ago slipping into the country via a truck was the preferred entry point for many illegal migrants but it came at a cost with people traffickers asking for as much as £20,000 to get into the back of a truck.

Ismet told MailOnline:’ I just didn’t have that sort of money but I’d heard from friends and others who had got into Britain that it was possible to get into the country by hiding underneath and then cutting into the trailer.

‘Looking back now I was very lucky not to have been killed and I thank God that my life was not lost but getting into Britain gave me the opportunity to start a new life and make some money for myself and my family.’

Ismet found work on construction sites earning £7 an hour before finding a job as a kitchen porter and glass collector in various pubs and restaurants across west London before eventually handing himself over to the Home Office.

Ismet and his fellow students attending  a talk with chef Brian turner (speaking right)

He said: ‘By now I had decided I wanted to stay longer and I was interested in maybe doing some cookery courses because I liked working in the pubs and restaurants, it was tough but I was happy to be earning money.

‘My cousin suggested I go and register and get permission to stay so that I wouldn’t be looking over my shoulder the whole time and be worried about the police or immigration looking for me.

‘I went to the Home Office and I was there for 15 hours and they asked me a lot of questions about where I was from and how I got into the country so I told them the truth, that I wanted to better myself and I wanted to work.

‘They took my fingerprints and then eventually they told me I could stay in the country for five years, you can’t imagine my happiness, I was so grateful for the opportunity and I knew I could be safe for five years.’

Ismet enrolled on a hospitality and catering foundation course at West London University and it was while studying there that lecturers gave him the chance to serve the late Queen and Prince Philip a celebration lunch.

Ismet stayed in Britain working at various top London eateries including Brasserie Blanc and Compton Brasserie until 2015 before deciding to move back to Albania and set up his own restaurant chain and has gone onto become a successful businessman with three venues

He and the four others were taken to Buckingham Palace where they were given an induction and briefing by Royal Household staff on how to behave with Her Majesty.

Ismet said: ‘We were told we had to walk backwards and never turn our back and we must not say anything unless we were asked by the Queen or Prince Philip.

‘I remember that when we eventually served the lunch she asked for a gin with an olive and Prince Philip put his hand on my shoulder to thank me and say he’d had a good meal.’

But the lunch almost ended in disaster for Ismet after he absent-mindedly walked in front of the Queen as she was walking down a corridor.

Ismet said:’ I was walking along when all of a sudden this soldier just came at me and knocked me out of the way. He said: ‘Are you crazy ? There are snipers here and they will take you out. You can’t walk in front of the Queen like that.’

Ismet said: ‘I’m very grateful for the chances I got in England and even though I risked my life to get there I know that if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today if I hadn’t got into that lorry’

‘He said it was his job to protect the Queen and make sure nothing happened and I shouldn’t have walked where I did but he was OK with it and we joked later and I even had my picture taken with him.’

Ismet stayed in Britain working at various top London eateries including Brasserie Blanc and Compton Brasserie until 2015 before deciding to move back to Albania and set up his own restaurant chain and has gone onto become a successful businessman with three venues.

Now married and with a daughter he told MailOnline:’ Basically it just came to the point where I decided I missed my family I had been in Britain for almost ten years and I wanted to go back. I had been given permission to stay and I would have got permanent residency but the draw for my own country was too much for me.

‘I came back to Tirana and with help from my family and the money I had made in England I bought a place in the centre of Tirana which became very popular and I ended up setting up another two restaurants which are very popular. I even had the British ambassador in Albania come here for lunch and I told him my story.

‘I’m very grateful for the chances I got in England and even though I risked my life to get there I know that if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today if I hadn’t got into that lorry.’

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