Diamond Jubilee: Crowds mark start of Queen's tour

The Leicester visit is the first of many the Queen will make until July

Cheering crowds waving union jacks have greeted the Queen in Leicester, the first stop on the monarch's Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK.

The Queen watched cultural dancers before entering De Montfort University, where she attended a fashion parade with the Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince Philip viewed a project aimed at improving the local community.

The royals later attended a service at Leicester Cathedral and the Queen unveiled a plaque at "Jubilee Square".

Earlier, crowds had stood three-deep on pavements around Leicester's train station awaiting the monarch's arrival.

There was a heavy police presence in the area, with patrol cars on the roads bordering the station and a helicopter overhead.

The royals then travelled in a motorcade to De Montfort University where they were greeted by city dignitaries and university staff before entering the Hugh Aston building to view booths highlighting local projects and charities.

At the scene

Queen in Leicester

There was something of a carnival atmosphere outside De Montfort University as the crowd awaited the royal party. The sun was shining as make-up artists under a gazebo adorned faces with union jack designs.

There were stilt men and a dance troupe performing on a dais and a stall where flags and programmes were being handed out, complete with biographies of the Queen, Prince Philip and the Duchess of Cambridge.

One middle-aged woman was wearing a huge flag like a cape, while two others were sporting sparkly union jacks. They came armed with camping stools and flasks of hot tea, such was their determination to wait out for as long as it took to see the Queen.

When she arrived there were whoops of joy and applause but most people were busy filming on their mobile phones.

The Queen wore a cerise cashmere dress and coat with black trim and matching hat by Angela Kelly. The duchess wore a suit by LK Bennett, a hat by James Lock, and Episode shoes.

The Queen and the duchess sat side-by-side watching the fashion parade, during which six students presented the duchess with a tailor-made design for a pair of shoes, from which she chose her favourite.

Competition winner Becka Hunt told BBC News that having her design chosen by the duchess was "incredible".

"I'm kind of in shock still - it's just amazing," she said. "She's become already the biggest fashion icon you could ever see really."

The crowds gathered outside Leicester Cathedral stood nine-deep in some parts of the pavement and whooped and clapped as the royals arrived.

Five children presented the Queen with bunches of flowers.

Danielle Mann, 7, presented the Duchess of Cambridge with a red rose for Prince William and bunches of carnations for herself, the Queen and the duke.

The schoolgirl said the duchess was "very pretty" and she was "excited to meet her".

Royal Visit Highlights

The Queen with a map of the UK
  • Visit to De Montfort University
  • Multi-faith service at Leicester Cathedral
  • Unveiling of plaque at Clock Tower
  • Meeting faith and charity representatives at St Martin's House

Erica Swift, 85, from Blaby, had been waiting to see the royals since 10:00 GMT.

"I came because I want to see the Queen," she said. "Sixty years reign - she's a gracious lady and I admire her a lot. Nobody can beat her. I wish her all the best now and for many more years."

Vivien Hardy, 71, said she had told the Duke of Edinburgh she was pleased he was well after his illness over Christmas.

"I told him we were happy to see him here and wished him well," she said.

The crowd outside the cathedral broke into God Save the Queen as the service drew to a close.

The royal party then went to nearby conference centre St Martins House, where the Queen met various faith leaders. The Duke of Edinburgh and Duchess of Cambridge met outreach workers.

Some 162 guests attended a lunch at the venue. The menu focused on local produce and included lamb, goat's cheese croquettes, wild mushroom tartlets, root vegetable dauphinoise, glazed beetroot and a number of desserts.

The royals then went to Leicester city centre, where the Queen unveiled a plaque which would be placed in the newly named Jubilee Square.

The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, said the square would be "a permanent reminder of your visit today". He presented the Queen with a photo album capturing scenes of her previous visits to Leicester.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee tour will include visits to the Isle of Wight, Birmingham, Merthyr Tydfil and Edinburgh.

It will finish on 25 July in the south-east of England.

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