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.
A university has issued an urgent warning after five students who took a cannabis type drug ended up in hospital, two of them seriously ill.
Lancaster University alerted its 12 thousand students last night.
It warned them if they had taken the drug known as Spice to call 999 immediately.
The drug was banned in 2009, but has become increasingly popular as a cheap alternative to cannabis.
A joint statement has been released by Lancashire Constabulary, Lancaster University, Lancashire NHS North Clinical Commissioning Group, Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council:
Five Lancaster University students who were taken to hospital after taking what appears to be a new psychoactive substance, sometimes unhelpfully referred to as ‘legal highs’, are recovering.
Police were called at about 6.30pm on Wednesday May 20th following reports the students, all men aged 19, had suffered adverse effects after taking the substance, which appears to have been a synthetic cannabis substitute.
Three of the men were discharged from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary last night and two remain in hospital for observations but their condition is stable.
While full forensic tests will now be carried out to try to establish exactly what the substance was, at this stage we cannot confirm whether any criminal offences which have been committed. Many chemicals found in synthetic cannabinoids are illegal and there is no way to know what these drugs contain when purchased, or how dangerous they can be.
“All our enquiries lead us to believe that this was an isolated incident confined to these five individuals and that no others are involved or have been affected.
“Thankfully these young men do not appear to have suffered any long-lasting effects but they were very ill and the outcome could have been very different. Our advice on new psychoactive substance remains that people should not take them as they will simply have no idea what they could contain.”
For further information or advice about new psychoactive substances, including ‘legal highs’, please go to the following website:
Lancaster University has issued a warning about taking synthetic cannabis after five students ended up in hospital.
Synthetic cannabis, know as Spice, is among a number of "legal" highs made illegal in 2009.
Smoking spice gives the user a similar experience to smoking cannabis and can lead to feelings of relaxation or euphoria.
According to Frank, the drug advice service other less pleasant effects may include an elevated heart rate, sickness and hallucinations.
Synthetic cannabinoids were classified alongside cannabis as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
For more information visit talktofrank.com
Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood Cat Smith is urging students not to take drugs or legal highs.
Shortly after 6.30pm yesterday evening police were called to campus following reports that five students had been admitted into Royal Lancaster Infirmary after taking an unknown substance.
The University issued a warning to students. Due to the serious conditions of the students and the fact the substance could not be confirmed as legal, officers attended the university to carry out a search of the students’ rooms.
Two of the students remain in hospital, and three students have since been discharged.
Enquiries are on-going to identify the exact nature of the substance.
Five students from Lancaster University have been hospitalised and two of them are critically ill after taking a legal high known as Spice. The drug is apparently similar to cannabis in appearance. The students are being treated at Lancaster infirmary. The University is warning people to be extra vigilant and call 999 if they know someone who's taken it.
Jack Perry, is the editor of the student newspaper and told us he thought it was an 'isolated incident' and that police had been at the scene to check student premises for more of the drug.
Five students from Lancaster University are in hospital and two are critically ill after taking the controversial legal high 'Spice'.
The university tweeted:
Urgent message: Several students have been hospitalised today after taking legal high Spice – please check on friends and call 999 if needed