What a way to crown diamond jubilee year
BRISTOLIANS braved gale force winds and rain to welcome the Queen on her first visit to the city for seven years.
The opening engagement of Her Majesty's tour of the city, one of the last engagements of her Diamond Jubilee year, was at caravan makers Bailey's of Bristol ahead of the Ashton Vale family firm's 65th anniversary next year.
School children from Ashton Vale Primary, Parson Street Primary, and St Anne's Park Primary schools were on hand to welcome the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as they arrived at the factory.
The Queen shone out on an otherwise grey and blustery day, wearing a vibrant pink outfit – a Stewart Parvin dress and matching double-breasted coat with gold buttons, and finished off with a ruby, diamond and gold brooch and a matching pink hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan.
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After a brief visit to the offices of the family firm, the royal couple were given an extensive tour of the factory floor.
The 86 year-old Monarch was shown around the plant by Nick Howard, director of the company, while his brother Simon Howard, the marketing manager, led the Duke around the different stages of production.
"It's wonderful to be able to welcome Her Majesty in her Diamond Jubilee year," said Nick Howard. "It's particularly rewarding to be able to show her the part we play in this growing industry – which is clearly a British success story."
Simon Howard said the Duke of Edinburgh was particularly interested in the practicalities of the production process.
"He spent a long time looking at the design drawings for the caravans, and asked lots of questions about the materials used," he said. "The Queen seemed more interested in talking to people about their experience of working here."
The Queen's second visit on her tour of the city was to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre, which is halfway through a multi-million pound refurbishment.
A large crowd gathered in King Street to greet Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh before they made their way inside for a tour of the theatre.
The Royal couple were then treated to a ten-minute "technical rehearsal" of the theatre's Christmas production of Peter Pan, before the Queen unveiled a plaque to mark the reopening of the royal box.
They met cast members and production staff, before touring the backstage area.
After the Bristol Old Vic, the next stop on the Queen's itinerary was the M shed museum, where she received a warm welcome from crowds outside and 150 guests from a cross-section of Bristol society invited to a lunch inside.
Julie Finch, Bristol's Head of Museums and Archives, praised her team for the work they had done behind the scenes. She also made the point that the museum had stayed open during the Queen's visit, a fact which Buckingham Palace had been keen to ensure.
"It just proves that M shed is for everyone, even when the Queen is here," said Ms Finch.
The final stop of Thursday's tour was the Gatehouse Centre in Hartcliffe, where the Queen and the Duke met mums and toddlers, young people learning new skills and small business owners based at the centre.