Crowds welcome William and Kate to Cambridge

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Cambridge railway station Photo: ITV Anglia

Cambridge has given its duke and duchess a rapturous welcome as the royal couple toured the city for the first time.

Hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets around the Guildhall to greet William and Kate, who are spending the day celebrating Cambridge's university, and some of its charities, schools and hardworking volunteers.

The royal couple arrived by train and were slowly driven through the city so the crowds could catch a glimpse of them.

Cambridge has been awaiting the royal visit since the Queen bestowed the dukedom on her grandson just a few hours before he married Catherine Middleton on April 29 last year.

The last Duchess of Cambridge was the German-born Princess Augusta Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Cassel, who was married to Prince Adolphus Frederick, the 1st Duke of Cambridge, and a son of George III.

The title was last held by Prince George, a military figure who wed a commoner for love - like William - but also kept a mistress for more than 30 years.

Kate was sporting her new hairstyle - layered long dark locks with a parted fringe - first seen in London on Tuesday when she opened a new exhibition at the Natural History Museum.

She was dressed in a MaxMara dress and coat and looked relaxed as she arrived at the Guildhall with her husband who wore a dark suit.

Bus driver Simon Newman, 43, from Sutton, near Ely, had travelled into Cambridge with his wife Claire, 48, an easyJet cabin crew member, to see the couple.

They were waiting outside the university's Senate House and said they were pleased that the royal couple had taken the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"I have the week off and so has my wife so we thought it would be great to come and see them. They are a really attractive couple," Mr Newman said.

Kate, who has never visited Cambridge, revealed she had trouble controlling "lots of troublesome Cubs" as she met a Scout during the reception at the Guildhall.

The Duchess told Jordan Wood, 17, who is the mayor of Cambridge's cadet: "I love the position I have with the Scouts - I'm volunteering at the moment. There are lots of troublesome Cubs running around and things."

Jordan, an A-level student, said about meeting William and Kate: "It's brilliant, to be honest. I feel it's a great honour for me to be asked to do this. I remember watching the wedding back in April last year and thinking 'I wonder if I will ever get to meet them'."

Cambridge mayor Sheila Stuart said the royal visit was "absolutely huge", adding: "The thing for Cambridge is this day is going to be in people's memories for the rest of their lives. In 50 and 60 years, people are going to be telling their grandchildren about it."

Kate and William were formally welcomed to the city by the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly and his wife Sally.

William joked about the punctual service he and his wife caught from London Kings Cross, which saw them arrive at 10.03am in Cambridge in a first-class carriage.

Antoinette Jackson, chief executive of Cambridgeshire City Council, who also met the royals in the Guildhall, said: "I chatted to the Duke about his journey and I congratulated him on arriving on time and he said that was because his train was on time."

At the Guildhall, the couple were shown the Royal Charter that awarded Cambridge city status in 1951 and met winners of community awards, including Oliver Duell and Joshua Behan, joint winners of the "most courageous child" category.

One of the exhibits on display was a photograph of a balcony appearance the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made in 1955, during her first visit to the city three years after she became monarch.

William and Kate replicated the balcony image and stepped outside to loud cheers from the crowds waiting in Market Square.