The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex fell silent to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy as they teamed up for their first official visit together since the royal wedding.
They were in Chester at noon and joined people up and down the UK in observing the silence in memory of the victims of the fire.
The occasion added a sombre note to the otherwise happy tour of Cheshire, which drew large crowds.
It began on a blustery platform at Runcorn station, where the Queen and duchess were welcomed with polite handshakes and curtsies from local dignitaries – and wild cheering and applause from hundreds of flag-waving schoolchildren.
All eyes were on the duchess as she passed another royal milestone, joining the Queen for an event without her husband for the first time.
The monarch appeared to enjoy the company of her new granddaughter-in-law, who was wearing a neutral pencil dress by Givenchy.
They were clearly at ease in each other’s company, smiling and chatting as the duchess completed an important royal rite of passage.
The Queen and Meghan, 36, who married Prince Harry last month in the gothic splendour of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, started their tour with a visit to Runcorn and Widnes, towns on the banks of the Mersey famous for chemicals and rugby league.
The itinerary for the US-born former actress and the 92-year-old monarch included officially opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge, a £1.86 billion six lane toll crossing designed to ease traffic between Runcorn and Widnes.
They also visited the Catalyst Museum in Widnes, which offers a bird’s eye view of the new crossing from the glass top observation gallery.
They then headed to the historic city of Chester for more engagements.
But everything stopped at noon when they both stood in silence along with other dignitaries and crowds of well-wishers outside the Storyhouse theatre.
Moments earlier huge crowds had cheered as they arrived in Chester.