Emperor’s sword provides a touching ceremony

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THE Queen’s official arrival in York was marked with a centuries-old tradition as she was greeted at the gateway to the city which has welcomed monarchs through the ages.

Micklegate Bar has been used for Royal visits since 1212 and yesterday a ceremony was conducted during which the Queen officially asked for permission to enter York.

She had been greeted by rapturous cheers from huge crowds both inside and outside Micklegate Bar as she arrived from York railway station with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and their grand-daughter, Princess Beatrice of York.

During the ceremony before she passed through the gateway into the city, the Queen touched the historic Sigismund Sword, which was originally owned by an Emperor of Bohemia and was presented to York in 1437. The ancient sword bears the Royal Arms on one side of the blade and the Arms of York on the other.

The Queen was greeted by York Council’s chief executive and town clerk Kersten England, the first woman to hold the title, who read a proclamation of welcome.

Ms England stressed the Royal visit marked a double celebration for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year as well as the city’s 800th anniversary since being granted a Royal Charter in 1212.

Among the crowds gathered to welcome the Royal visitors was Hilda Hill, 74, of Strensall, who had arrived at 6.15am with her granddaughters, Stephanie, 23, and Natalie, 20, also from Strensall, carrying Union Flags dating back to a previous Royal visit in 1972.

“I think she is marvellous,” she said.

Another onlooker among the thousands of wellwishers was Jen Lawson, 35, from Washington in the United States of America.

“I’ve seen your Queen five times,” she said. “I just love the way everybody gets excited about her. In America, we think she’s great.”