It was a timeline that began in July 1949 when, as a newly-wed, she and the Duke of Edinburgh stepped off a train at Halifax to begin a three-day tour of the West Riding. Some 50,000 people squeezed into Roundhay Park to catch a glimpse of her watching a children’s pageant.
Yet the county was already familiar to her family. The Studley Royal estate near Ripon, which includes Fountains Abbey, played host to the Queen Mother throughout her 101 years. The estate had been owned by the family of her close friend and former bridesmaid, Lady Doris Vyner – whose Scottish home in Caithness the Royals also visited.
The Queen’s love of horse racing has drawn her to Doncaster, and to the St Leger, on numerous occasions. In her Coronation year of 1953 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, accompanied her. She has also been welcomed at York Racecourse and at the Harewood horse trials.
Neither has she been a stranger to the agricultural community. As Sovereign, she has been guest of honour at the Great Yorkshire Show three times, most recently on its 150th outing, 12 years ago. Her visit in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year, capped a whole summer of appearances in the county, also taking in York, Hull, Wakefield and Leeds, where she sat inside the Elland Road football stadium, filled to capacity with 40,000 people watching a youth festival in her honour.
She has also officiated at the 900th anniversary of Selby Abbey in 1969 and the opening of the Humber Bridge in 1981, and has distributed the Royal Maundy money here seven times.
Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.
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James Mitchinson, Editor