Diamond Jubilee: Queen hails 'remarkable spirit' of Welsh people

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Media captionThe Queen has visited the community on four occasions since the tragedy in Aberfan

The Queen has paid tribute to the people of Wales for their "remarkable spirit" and praised their "fortitude and resilience".

She gave the speech after meeting former steel workers at a newly-refurbished works general office and archives in Ebbw Vale.

They also attended a service at the town's Christ Church and met community groups at a reception.

The tribute came on the second, and final, day of her two-day Wales tour.

Her visit is part of her Diamond Jubilee tour.

In Ebbw Vale, the Queen delighted the crowd as she went on a walkabout, taking time to stop and speak with well-wishers.

Royal fans on either side of the barrier on the town's Church Street leaned out of windows in nearby homes. They excitedly took photos before the Queen left Ebbw Vale in her Bentley state limousine.

Scores of schoolchildren, braving the wind and rain, lined the streets waving Union and Welsh flags.

Image caption Children waiting for the Queen to arrive in Aberfan

More than 500 worshippers heard Geoff Waggett give thanks to God for the Queen and her pivotal role as "defender of the faith".

She gave a speech to the gathered and excited congregation in a marquee at the side of the church.

The Queen said: "Prince Philip and I are delighted to be here with you in Ebbw Vale this afternoon.

"You have been witnesses to many of the greatest changes in Wales of recent years.

'Undimmed optimism'

"My family has been coming here since the height of the Valleys' industrial might. After the closure of the steelworks a decade ago, we have admired the fortitude and resilience of Ebbw Vale as you have tackled the social and economic struggle that followed.

"I have travelled the length and breadth of this country during my 60 years as your Queen.

"Prince Philip and I have shared many of the joys and sadnesses of the Welsh people in that time and have always been struck by your sense of pride and your undimmed optimism.

"That remarkable spirit of Wales has been very evident in this valley today."

Earlier, the royal party visited Aberfan where the Queen opened Ynysowen Community Primary School.

Hundreds of well-wishers turned out to greet her.

A total of 144 people, including 116 children, died when a coal waste tip slid down a mountain, engulfing a school and surrounding houses in 1966.

Since the tragedy, which all but wiped out an entire generation of the community's school children, the Queen has visited the community on four occasions.

The visit is a sign of her continued support for Aberfan.

The royal couple met a number of survivors of the disaster, as well as parents bereaved in the tragedy nearly 46 years ago.

Among survivors was David Davies, who was aged eight and a pupil at the school when it was engulfed by coal waste tip.

He went on to move away and become a solicitor but has since returned to the community.

Mr Davies spoke about how his experience had coloured his life.

"I would say that it makes you take stock and look at life in a way different to someone who has not experienced it. You count your blessings," he said.

From Ebbw Vale, they visited Glanusk Park, near Crickhowell, Powys.

There she attended a "Diamonds in the Park" festival featuring rural activities and sports.

More than 100 young St John volunteers met the Queen on her visit.

On Thursday, the Queen started the first day of the tour in Cardiff with a service of thanksgiving at Llandaff Cathedral. More than 600 people attended.

The royal couple then travelled to Margam Park, where they met Wales' Grand Slam-winning team .

They ended the day with a visit to Merthyr Tydfil's Cyfarthfa Castle and Cyfarthfa High School.

The tour has attracted hundreds of well-wishers, but two men were arrested in separate incidents in Merthyr.

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