THE Queen came to the North West today to visit the City of Lancaster and its famous castle.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II arrived at the city’s train station at 10.22am and was met by large, cheering crowds in pouring rain.
Wearing a turquoise outfit by Angela Kelly, her favourite designer, and a Duchy of Lancaster brooch, and carrying a matching umbrella, she was taken by car to the castle.
The car pulled up outside the castle’s John O’Gaunt gate and Her Majesty stepped out onto a temporary stage.
Crowds waving Union flags crammed into the Castle Hill area and all the way down to Meeting House Lane, craning for a glimpse of the Queen on her first visit to Lancaster since 1999.
A band played God Save The Queen as the Queen stood on the stage with the presentation party.
Then Mark Hudson, chairman of the Duchy of Lancaster, gave a speech where he called Her Majesty “our Duke”.
The Queen was handed the keys to the castle by Constable Pam Barker and Nancy Weedey, eight, representing Lancaster Priory.
She then left the stage after just a few minutes, giving a little wave to the crowds before entering the castle for a tour which includes a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard II by Lancaster-based Demi-Paradise Productions.
The Queen smiled as she watched the play and seemed to be enjoying it.
She also met local dignitaries and groups including the 35th Cubs of Skerton.
The crowds outside then dwindled as the rain stopped and, for a brief moment, the sun came out.
The Queen’s car re-emerged through the gate around 20 minutes later and drove away in a convoy as she waved to crowds. There was no scheduled ‘walkabout’
She then attended her next engagement at Myerscough College, Bilsborrow, where she saw a horse shoeing.
Maddie Lowther from Holme near Carnforth, who came to see the Queen with her children Eve and Owen, and mum Sally Lancaster, said: “It was lovely.
“We were up at the crack of dawn and we’ve been here since 8.15am, standing in the rain. But it was very exciting.
“We didn’t see much of her. We saw her hat. I managed to lift the kids up so they could see her.”
Karen and Anna Swain, from Blackpool, were first in the queues on Castle Hill at around 6.15am on Friday.
“I’d already done a work shift, I was at work at 2.30am, “ said Karen, who works as cleaner.
“I’ve seen the Queen a few times. It was a blessing. It’s great that she came to Lancaster.”
Linda and Jim Barker, from Slyne-with-Hest, were also right at the front when the Queen arrived. Jim is originally from Illinois, USA.
Linda said: “I’m a monarchist. I think she does a good job. For the amount she costs, she’s worth every penny.”
Tony Marshall was there with his wife Gill. Tony has worked on the Lancaster Castle project over the past few years, helping to refurbish the historic building. The Duchy of Lancaster is carrying out a £3m programme of works over the next two years to repair 70 per cent of the castle’s roofs and deal with weather damage to the fabric of the 1,000-year-old Grade II Listed building.
Tony said: “The profile of the castle has been raised. It has reinvented itself.”
Gill said: “We walk past the castle so many times, we’ve kind of adopted it as our own. It’s such a privilege to have it in Lancaster. We’re very interested in what the Queen is planning to do with it. It’s very exciting.”
Follow the latest and look back at the day on our sister paper, the Lancaster Guardian’s live blog by clicking here