The Queen was treated to Shakespeare and sheep-shearing on a visit to Lancaster today.
She travelled to the city on the Royal Train and was welcomed by hundreds of flag-waving well-wishers.
After a short journey from the railway station, along a route lined by representatives of the Army, Navy and RAF, the Queen arrived at the city's historic castle to be greeted with more enthusiastic cheers and applause - and a torrential downpour.
Wearing a turquoise outfit by Angela Kelly and a silver Duchy of Lancaster brooch, the Queen reached the castle's John O'Gaunt gate as the heavens opened, but the atrocious weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds who crammed the narrow streets as a band from the Royal Corps of Signals played the National Anthem.
After the ceremonial handing over of the castle keys to the monarch, Nancy Weedy, an eight-year-old chorister at Lancaster Priory, presented the Queen with a posy of red roses, a symbol of Lancashire, the "Red Rose county".
Inside the castle's Chapel Yard, a group of excited girls from the 5th Lancaster, Bowerham Brownies and boys from the 35th Lancaster, Skerton Cubs, by now drenched by the rain, waited to be presented to the Queen.
The royal visitor was then invited to take a seat under a canopy for a short performance from Shakespeare's Richard II, the speech given by John O'Gaunt, an evocation of England's past glories, including the famous lines: "This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle ...This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."
After visiting the castle, the royal moved on to the village of Bilsborrow, home to Myerscough College.
In the college's Livery Yard, Phoebe Colton, 26, from Lancaster, and Nicol Coulter, 29, from Preston, who are farriery apprentices, gave a demonstration in the art of shoeing horses.
The Queen watched as they worked on a skewbald horse called Guild and a bay horse called Gisburn - two giant, 17-hand horses with the mounted section of Lancashire Police.
Mounted Police Sergeant Christine Driver, who rides Guild, said: "She said how big he was, how he must be a mountain to climb to get on."
"The horses were very well behaved, they are used to people and crowds."
The Queen was then shown a display of cattle, with one beast in particular keen to get a closer look at the royal visitor.
Apparently unperturbed by the animal's curiosity, it was pulled back into line by its handlers before it could get any closer to the 89-year-old monarch.
Finally, 17-year-old Alex Kiriakos, from Todmorden, had the daunting task of shearing a sheep live in front of the Queen, watched by his fellow students and a large gathering of press and TV cameras.
Afterwards, the teenager said: "She said, 'Have you ever done shearing before? How do you control the sheep?"
"I was a bit nervous, but it's an experience that's a once in a lifetime opportunity."
The Queen has arrived in Lancaster to cheering crowds for her royal visit to mark 750 years since the creation of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Royal fans are gathering to welcome the Queen to Lancaster.
The Queen, who also holds the title of Duke of Lancaster, will arrive at Lancaster station by Royal Train before heading for Lancaster Castle for a ceremonial visit.
There she will be entertained by a performance of Shakespeare and meet invited guests.
She will then have lunch at Myerscough College in Billsborrow.
The visit marks 750 years since the creation of the Duchy of Lancaster inheritance.
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Princess Anne has officially opened a new £7million centre at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
The Wolfson Building will house the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health, the Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium.
The Wolfson building has been part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013, along with support from the Regional Growth Fund and The Wolfson Foundation.
The work being carried out in the Wolfson building will focus on the areas of maternal and child health, neglected tropical diseases and public health pesticide development.”
HRH the Princess Royal has been in Manchester today.
Princess Ann visited the upmarket clothing company Private White V.C.
The company based in Salford can trace its roots back to the First World War and was once owned by a holder of the VC.
The Princess Royal then visited the Etihad stadium to visit Manchester City's 'City in the Community' project which aims to strengthen community ties.
The Princess Royal met former Private Mike Swindells, 27, from Wythenshawe.
Mike was seriously injured after he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on a routine patrol in Helmand province.
He has since become an integral part of the Club’s ‘One City’ disability project, which has helped more than 8,000 disabled people get involved in sport over the past three years.
The Duchess of Cornwall will be officially opening a new park in Chester today.
The Countess of Chester Country Park has been built on a former landfill site close to the city's hospital.
Camilla will be unveiling a plaque and a sculpture to mark the occasion.
Everton in the Community Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chief Executive of Everton Football Club, Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
She's being awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for “services to the Merseyside community”.
Since her appointment, the official charity of Everton Football Club has received a plethora of local, national and international awards in recognition of the life-changing work it undertakes in the community on a daily basis.
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