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The Queen welcomes Olympic Torch to Windsor

The Queen looks at the Olympic flame as the Duke of Edinburgh shakes hands with torchbearer Gina Macgregor at Windsor Castle. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The spirit of the Olympics came to Windsor Castle today as the Queen welcomed torchbearers to her home.

Local residents ran through the grounds of the royal residence with the flaming symbol of the London Games as excitement over the global event mounted.

In 17 days the Queen will declare the Games open during a spectacular ceremony at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

In the run-up to the sporting spectacular the Olympic flame has been travelling around the UK and has been greeted by cheering crowds for much of its journey.

In the castle's quadrangle the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh watched as torchbearer Gina Macgregor, 74, ran into the open space after earlier receiving the flame from Renate Beynon, 66.

Its journey began today in Oxford where athletics legend Sir Roger Bannister started the flame on its way at the site of his greatest sporting achievement, the Iffley Road track where he broke the magical four-minute mile barrier on a balmy evening on May 6, 1954.

When the flame is exchanged between runners they touch their torches together, known as a "kiss moment".

But in a bid to allow the royals to watch a handball demonstration from schoolchildren the symbol of the Games was put into a lantern.

Olympian Sir Roger Bannister carried the Olympic Torch on Wednesday. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Minutes before the flame arrived grey skies which had been threatening rain let go a torrential downpour which forced guests under the shelter of the castle's Sovereign's Entrance.

Mrs Macgregor, from Taplow near Slough, arrived soaking wet and met the Queen who was wearing a rain cape and wielding with an umbrella with Philip by her side.

Laughing, Mrs Macgregor told the royal couple "I looked fine this morning", and they both began chuckling.

Gina Macgregor (right) passes the Olympic flame to torchbearer Phillip Wells. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Philip remarked how wet the 74-year-old torch bearer was, telling her "you're soaked".

When the flame was put into a lantern by an official the Queen looked amazed as the old flame on Mrs Macgregor's torch was turned off while the Duke simply laughed.

He held it for a few seconds as if feeling its weight before handing it back to the torch bearer.

Sheltering from the rain in the Castle's Sovereign's Entrance, which has a large stone porch, the Queen met four torch bearers from the 1948 Games.

The Queen talks to LOCOG chairman Lord Sebastian Coe. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Bob Tutton, 82, a retired headmaster from Reading, ran through his hometown of Yeovil in Somerset aged 18 in the run-up to what became known as the austerity Games following the Second World War.

He was chosen because he was the best athlete in his school and he had brought his 1948 torch with him.

He said: "It all went by very quickly the run. My mother kept the torch for many years and now I have it.

"It's been brilliant meeting up with all the people that carried the torch as well - this is one of the best days I've had in a long time."

The Queen enjoys the visit of the Olympic Torch. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A few minutes after the rain had stopped brilliant sunshine bathed the quadrangle and the Queen saw the handball demonstration before watching 12-year-old Phil Wells have his torch lit, then set off down the long walk, the straight road out of the Castle grounds.

The schoolboy was chosen because of his sporting abilities and he started at walking pace before running along the route lined by the Household Cavalry Regiment in combat uniform.

The Queen chatted to Mrs Macgregor as they watched him set off and the torch bearer said afterwards: "The Queen said 'is he going to run' and I said 'yes he will run'."

Commenting about the soaking she received in the downpour she added: "We were just talking about the weather, I said 'what have I done to deserve this,' the Queen said this 'English weather, it's not been good'."

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