Leicester's pride at launching Queen's Jubilee tour

There was a remarkable turnout for the Queen, Prince Philip and the Duchess of Cambridge in Leicester.

Thousands of people crowded outside De Montfort University and along the roads around the area, many clutching union jack flags, some with their faces painted red, white and blue.

A devoted handful had secured prime positions by queuing since 02:00 GMT - nearly eight hours before the scheduled arrival of the royal party.

Others, finding themselves at the back, tried to climb on to walls to get a better view - only to be ushered down by safety officials. Some watched with excitement from the shoulders of friends.

When the royals arrived, hundreds of camera phones were thrust into the air to capture the moment, and wellwishers waved their flags and cheered loudly.

Although they headed inside after only a few minutes, the sense of excitement and cries of "I can see her, I can see her", proved the royal family can still pull in the crowds.

Image caption People gathered in and around Leicester city centre to welcome the royal party

The Queen has been to Leicester several times since her coronation in 1953, during which time the city has undergone many changes.

Arguably, it was chosen as the starting point for the Jubilee tour because of its location at the heart of England, and its reputation as one of the most multi-cultural cities in the UK.

The royals arrived by train for Thursday's visit, heading first for the university, where they were greeted by the crowds at Magazine Square monument.

Student Rozita Kiralova, 27, said: "Everyone was excited and screaming loudly. The Queen was wearing a bright pink outfit and Kate looked beautiful and athletic."

Inside the university, the Queen and Duchess watched a fashion parade and Catherine judged a shoe-design competition, while outside most of the people who had gathered waited patiently.

As soon as the royal party returned - to unveil a plaque - the mood of excitement returned. Some onlookers climbed up stepladders, which they had brought along to improve their chances of catching a glimpse.

Rhys Hallam, 32, from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, who had been waiting with friends since 07:30 GMT, said the atmosphere was "vibrant". He added: "I don't think I would get a chance to see the Queen in Leicester again."

Image caption The royal party left the university at about 12:30 GMT to be driven to the cathedral

A choir sang as the royals left the university to be driven to Leicester Cathedral, where they watched a multi-faith service.

En route, some people ran alongside the cars and the cathedral bells rang out.

Lewis Payne, 21, a student at De Montfort, said: "It's pretty crazy, I've not seen something so big in Leicester before."

Some people said they were disappointed not to have got close to the royal visitors, but were proud to be there at the start of the Queen's landmark Diamond Jubilee Tour.

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