Queen and Meghan visit Cheshire on first joint trip

The Queen and Duchess of Sussex are in Cheshire for their first royal engagement together.

Her Majesty and newly-married Meghan are officially opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge and Chester’s Storyhouse Theatre.

They will then attend a lunch at Chester Town Hall as guests of the city council.

It is the first time the duchess has attended an event with the Queen without her husband Prince Harry.

Thousands of people were already waiting at the venues hours before the royal pair arrived, with stalls set up on the streets selling flags and souvenirs.

The Queen, wearing green in honour of Grenfell Tower fire victims on the first anniversary of the tragedy, and duchess were greeted by hundreds of cheering schoolchildren as they stepped off the royal train at Runcorn station.

Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs MBE, who welcomed Meghan as she left the train, said: “Welcome to Cheshire. I understand this is your first visit to northern England.”

The duchess, wearing a cream outfit by Givenchy, replied: “That’s right yes.”

Queen Elizabeth II officially pulls the curtain to open the new Mersey Gateway BridgeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Queen officially opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge
The Queen and the Duchess of SussexImage copyrightPA
Image captionIt is the first time the Queen and the duchess have taken part in a royal event together without the duke

Abigail Grimes, a pupil at Runcorn’s Beechwood Primary School, was chosen to present the duchess with a posy of flowers as it was the youngster’s fifth birthday.

The Queen, wearing a Stewart Parvin outfit and matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, was given flowers by Jack Jackson, 10, from St Michael’s Catholic Primary School in Widnes.

The Duchess of SussexImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Duchess of Sussex accepts flowers from a schoolgirl in Runcorn

Grange Hill and Brookside creator Phil Redmond and wife Alexis, the High Sheriff of Cheshire, were among those gathered to greet the royals.

Mr Redmond joked he should have asked Meghan if she wanted a part in his soap Hollyoaks.

“I didn’t ask her, but there’s still lunch yet. She’ll have to go through the audition process like everybody else.”

Mrs Redmond said: “It’s fantastic to have them here and it’s a big day for Cheshire.”

Schoolchildren near Runcorn StationImage copyrightPA
Image captionSchoolchildren near Runcorn Station were eager for a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Sussex

The Duchess of Sussex has taken part in royal engagements since her wedding but this is arguably her most important yet – accompanying the Queen on a day of visits.

They arrived in Cheshire on board the royal train and are visiting the new Mersey Gateway Bridge and Chester.

Thousands of people are already waiting at the venues to try and get a view of the pair.

Stalls selling flags and souvenirs have been set up on the streets of Chester and schoolchildren who will meet the Queen and duchess during the day were delivered to where they needed to be early this morning.

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During the visit to the bridge, the royals met architects, planners and community representatives and watched a performance from local schoolchildren before Her Majesty unveiled a plaque to mark the opening.

The bridge between Runcorn and Widnes was opened in October and has been subject of fierce debate over its tolls.

The Mersey Gateway BridgeImage copyrightMERSEY GATEWAY PROJECT
Image captionThe Mersey Gateway Bridge is the first calling point

The Queen and the duchess then headed to Chester where they are having a tour of the Storyhouse Theatre.

The £37m theatre opened in May 2017 following a two-and-a-half-year project to transform the city’s former Odeon cinema.

During the visit they will see performances from a theatre company for people in recovery from addiction.

Two women sit outside a decorated house near Runcorn StationImage copyrightPA
Image captionA patriotic pair await the arrival of the Queen and the duchess
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The Queen Elizabeth and Duchess of Sussex arrive at the StoryhouseImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Queen Elizabeth and Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Storyhouse

Excitement built outside the Storyhouse as the motorcade arrived and there were cheers from the waiting crowds as the Queen and duchess got out of their car.

As they arrived, cameras and smartphones were put in the air to help those waiting in the dense crowds on the streets by the theatre document the moment – even if they were unable to catch more than a fleeting glance.

Many bystanders were happy that the Queen’s bright green outfit – the colour used to remember victims of the Grenfell Tower fire victims – helped her to stand out.

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Alison Green with her mother Margaret Bamber
Image captionAlison Green with her mother Margaret Bamber hopes to see the duchess to make her US friends jealous

Alison Green, 49, who is originally from the UK but now lives in Virginia, USA, said: “I landed yesterday to see mum and dad and decided to come down today.

“I’m mainly looking forward to seeing Meghan as I want to make my friends at home jealous!”

source: BBC