Thousands lining Hitchin's market square waved to the Queen s she began her first stop during her tour of the county.

Around 7,000 people turned out, and many had been waiting since the early hours of the morning to claim a good spot.

Around 24 schools from the Hitchin area bussed in their pupils for the royal visit and hundreds of schoolchildren waited to see the Queen who had travelled to the town by royal train from Nottinghamshire.

Stewart Peter, an oil trader living in Hitchin, had his five-year-old daughter Erica perched on his shoulders to get a better view.

Many of Hitchin's shops had shut for the day but some, such as banks, remained open, with their staff standing in the doorways and windows watching the spectacle of the royal visit.

Michelle White, 40, from the nearby town of Shefford, brought her daughters Amelia, aged three, and Jessica who is one next week, to see the Queen.

Mrs White, whose husband Squadron Leader Craig White, is in Afghanistan training the Afghan national police, said: "I think this is absolutely brilliant."

Above: ITV Reporter Lauren Carter gets the crowds reaction to the royal visit.