IT WAS the moment the Queen had a lightbulb idea.

An energy-efficient lightbulb created by Bicester-based Zeta Specialist Lighting caught Her Majesty’s eye at a Buckingham Palace reception.

Managing director Philip Shadbolt and his wife Dawn were among 350 people invited to the event on Monday to celebrate the UK’s technology industry.

Only eight were asked to demonstrate their high-tech products to the Queen and Prince Philip, and Zeta was one of the firms chosen.

As Mr Shadbolt showed off the firm’s Life Bulb – a replacement for the 60W Incandescent light bulb – it prompted a string of questions from Her Majesty.

She also requested two samples of the bulbs to try in her private quarters.

Zeta is now in discussions with the head of household at the palace to trial some of their bulbs in chandeliers around Buckingham Palace.

Pointing to a chandelier hanging from the ornate ceiling, the Queen asked Mr Shadbolt if his bulbs could be used.

He said: “She said ‘Can they be used in the palace? Can they replace what we have upstairs? Can you make them a little smaller?’ Mr Shadbolt added: “We can fit them in the palace and we are already talking to the head of house about doing some.

“There are 40,000 lightbulbs in the palace and the problem was the modern ones don’t give the colour she liked. Ours will.

“We would be only too happy to help them cut their energy bills.”

A palace spokesman said: “I think the Queen’s interest speaks for itself.”

The visit came in the same week the firm, based in Telford Road, celebrates 25 years in business.

Mr Shadbolt said of the palace visit: “It was amazing, a wonderful experience.”

Last summer the firm won a £5m grant from the TSB’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI), to bring production of LED lighting back from China to Bicester.

The move created almost 30 jobs and is expected to boost the local economy by £15m over the next three years.

Cash was invested in plant and machinery, test equipment and new staff, and the new factory opened in April.

Students join garden party

Student volunteers from the Oxford Hub were at Buckingham Palace yesterday for a Garden Party with the Queen.

The hub, based in Turl Street in the city centre, has been given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, the equivalent of an MBE for charities.

It co-ordinates 50 volunteering projects across the city helping students give their time to benefit more than 1,000 people each year.

Run by 14 students, Oxford Hub was the only group in Oxfordshire to receive the award this year.

The Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Tim Stephenson, will officially present a certificate signed by the Queen and a piece of commemorative crystal to hub members at a special ceremony to be held later in the year.

  • Our top stories: