Harrogate people’s royal tales as The Queen makes history

The Queen is accompanied by Great Yorkshire Show director Bill Cowling during her visit to Harrogate in 2008.

The Queen is accompanied by Great Yorkshire Show director Bill Cowling during her visit to Harrogate in 2008.

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By Graham Chalmers

A lot of things have changed in the last six decades or so but one figure has remained a constant.

Sixty-three years after she acceded to the throne, The Queen officially became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch today.

Celebrations of this historic milestone took place across the nation.

Tower Bridge in London lifted as a matter of respect while bell ringing took place at Ripon Cathedral at the exact time Elizabeth II surpassed the record previously held by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

For The Queen herself, it’s business as usual; she’s spent much of the day in Scotland for the opening of the new Borders railway line.

The links between The Queen and North Yorkshire run long and deep, from her appearances at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate to her trips to Ripon including her 2004 visit for another important anniversary - 400 years since the granting of the city’s royal charters.

Several readers who have personal experiences of seeing The Queen got in touch with us this week to share their memories.

Harrogate woman Betty Cross, 89, was in London in 1953 during the coronation. Betty said: “Three of us girls caught the train to London. On coronation day we were in the streets waiting. Great cheers went up for the two-tonne golden coach as it passed us.

“The Queen sparkled in her gown and she had a bouquet of white flowers. Her crown and diamonds were shining. She waved and how we cheered.”

Retired North Yorkshire police inspector Mike Woodhall said one of the biggest highlights of his whole career camein 2008 when his job was to lead the police motorcycles escorting The Queen to the Great Yorkshire Show.

He said: “Despite the timings being arranged with military precision, I was horrified when we escorted them back to Hornbeam station afterwards to see the royal train had not yet arrived.

“The Queen and Prince Philip walked onto an empty platform. It was a very long two minutes wait for me but I’m sure they enjoyed their extended stay in Harrogate!”