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 was in Blackburn today carrying out a tradition that dates back 350 years.
She was handing out Maundy money to 88 men and 88 women - a pair for each of her years.
And she even had time for a bite of Lancashire hotpot, as Amy Welch reports.
The Queen has given out Maundy money to 88 men and 88 women at Blackburn Cathedral.
Thousands of people have been lining the streets of Blackburn for a glimpse of the Queen.
The Duke of Edinburgh is also in town to give money to pensioners at the traditional Royal Maundy Thursday service.
Amy Welch reports.
The Queen commemorates Maundy by offering "alms" to senior citizens recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations, in recognition of their service to the Church and to the local community.
During the service the Queen gives out the Maundy money to 88 men and 88 women - one for each of her 88 years.
Each recipient receives two purses, one red and one white.
This year the red purse contains a £5 coin, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Queen Anne's reign and a 50p coin commemorating the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.
The white purse contains specially minted Maundy money.
This takes the form of one, two, three and four silver penny pieces, the sum of which equals the number of years of the monarch's age.
The Queen arrives at Blackburn Cathedral for the Maundy Thursday service.
People of Blackburn are lining the streets to see the Queen as she visits the town for the Maundy Thursday service at Blackburn Cathedral.
Royalist author Colin Edwards will be among the thousands of people welcoming the Queen to Lancashire at today's Maundy service.
The 73-year-old has met and photographed the monarch hundreds of times before, and today Colin will personally present her with his book, 'A Personal Portrait of the Royal Family.'
The book features many of the Queen's visits to the North West in a series of photos.