Crowds flock to see the Queen

HUNDREDS of people have lined the streets of Bury St Edmunds hoping to get a glimpse of Her Majesty the Queen this morning.

Russell Claydon

HUNDREDS of people have lined the streets of Bury St Edmunds hoping to get a glimpse of Her Majesty the Queen this morning.

The monarch has arrived in the historic market town for the annual Maundy Thursday pre-Easter ceremony, where she will hand out minted coins to deserving Suffolk pensioners.

This morning at 9.45am there was a parade of the Yeoman of the Guard, with people even watching from the windows of the Angel Hotel - where the beefeaters stayed last night.

Mary Gough, the owner of the hotel, said: “It is absolutely brilliant. I have never seen Bury look so clean. It is wonderful.

“We had the Gentlemen Yeoman staying here and they are the most delightful chaps we have come across.”

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Among the crowds are Howard and Elizabeth Shapton, who set off at 7am this morning from their home in Barningham to secure front row seats opposite the Athaneum.

Mrs Shapton said: “It's great fun to have the Royal family here, we're very proud and very honoured. We wanted to arrive early so we had planned to set off at 7am.

“We were here for the Queen's Jubilee and we are looking forward to the day - it'll be a day to remember.”

Meanwhile, observing the scene from the top of the Angel Hotel stairs was Melissa Vehnke, the current Miss Florida, who is living in Bury for a year with her husband after he retired from the USAF.

As church bells rang out and crowds waved Union Jack flags, she said: “We love it in Bury St Edmunds. It has been wonderful. It is very exciting to see a real Queen - people in America think I am a queen but she is the real thing.

“We are blessed to be here. We have so much respect for the Queen.”

Gemma Carling, from Bury, has brought her excited three-year-old daughter to see Her Majesty.

“She said: “I think it is an exciting day for Bury, which is why I've brought my daughter here. There are not many times you get to come and see the Queen.”

Meanwhile Jayne Weaver, who has travelled from Burwell for today's event, has secured a prime position at the front of the barrier with her three young children all waving Union Jacks.

“Everyone is excited,” she said. “I just looked on the website which said she was coming and thought it would be a great opportunity for the kids in the Easter holidays.”

Val Lee, 60, from Bury, brought her two grandchildren Megan Eke, eight, and Madeline Eke, five, from Lawshall to watch proceedings.

Waiting outside the side door to the Cathedral, where the Queen was due to walk out, she said: “It is a once in a lifetime visit for both us and them, not to be missed.

“They stayed with us last night and we got them up early this morning.

“We are really hoping to see the Queen. We have got our flags at the ready. They were kindly given out by some gentleman in the street, which is lovely.”

Pensioner Iris Halfpenny has travelled from Leicester today to get a glimpse of the Queen. She said: “I think the world of her. She is a credit to the country.

“Her mother was my patron during the war when I was in the Land Army and we though the world of her too.”

- Check this website throughout the day for updates, pictures and videos of the Royal visit.