YORK and North Yorkshire have welcomed the Queen on many occasions during the first five decades of this Elizabethan age.

Her first official visits came before she acceded to the throne. Princess Elizabeth toured North Yorkshire's air bases in 1944, including Linton-on-Ouse and Leeming. This must have had much the same morale-boosting effect on the young airmen as the King and Queen's tours of the East End had on bomb-weary Londoners.

Three years later, the 21-year-old Princess announced her engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. They married on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey, and they had their first child a week short of a year later, on November 14, 1948: Prince Charles Philip Arthur George.

The Princess made her first visit to York with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1949. They were received at the railway station by the civic party, including Alderman John Bowes Morrell, then enjoying his second term as Lord Mayor.

On their tour, which included a walk down Stonegate and a visit to St William's College, they saw some of the wartime bomb damage.

The Queen's first visit to York after her Coronation came in July 1957. It was part of a long day of Yorkshire engagements she undertook with Prince Philip.

This began with a tour of Catterick Camp. There they witnessed a mock tank battle and inspected a guard of honour mounted by three regiments of which the Queen was Colonel-in-Chief: the Royal Scots Greys, the 16th/5th the Queen's Royal Lancers and the 7th Royal Tank Regiment.

Visits were also made to cookhouses, messrooms and officers' messes, and the royal couple were presented to non-commissioned officers and their wives.

The Queen and the Duke then travelled to Harrogate, and spent two hours at the Great Yorkshire Show.

They arrived in York by train at 6pm. This began what was to prove a rain-curtailed evening in the city.

A torrential downpour prevented them watching the Mystery Plays in the Museum Gardens. The Queen was quick to realise that the cast would feel this disappointment keenly, and so she issued instructions for the programme to be readjusted to allow them to meet the performers in costume at Tempest Anderson Hall.

Crowds had begun gathering long before the royal party arrived at York station. When the Queen stepped from the train, wearing a suit of pale blue lace with matching hat, loud cheers filled the concourse.

She first greeted the Lord Mayor, Alderman Eric Keld, who surrendered the city's sword of state to her in accordance with tradition.

The Minster bells pealed out their welcome as the Queen and Prince Philip made their way by car to the Assembly Rooms, cheered by people standing in the rain on the bar walls.

The road from the railway war memorial to Lendal Bridge was a solid mass of people who surged after the limousine towards the city centre.

On arrival at the Assembly Rooms, the Queen discovered she had left her fur in the royal train. A messenger was sent to retrieve it.

York Corporation's parks department had decorated the Assembly Rooms with pink and blue floral decorations.

Among the guests presented to the Queen were William Wallace, chairman of Rowntree's, and Sir Francis Terry, chairman of Terry's.

While the Queen and the Duke were inside, people thronged ten deep outside, undeterred by the increasingly heavy rain. On the next leg of their journey the royal couple waved sympathetically from their warm and dry car, as the crowds in New Street and Coney Street roared their welcome.

Some of those in St Helen's Square had been waiting to catch a glimpse of the monarch for three hours. They were rewarded with a wave from the Queen and Prince Philip as they walked up the Mansion House steps.

They enjoyed a private dinner inside the Lord Mayor's official residence before moving on to York Minster.

"In Duncombe Place the excitement knew no bounds. As the cars passed, the spectators broke through the ranks of the police and surged onto the roadway, where they made a great dash to the Minster," reported the Evening Press.

The Queen and the Duke spent about 40 minutes in the Minster listening to organ music played by Dr Francis Jackson. They also saw the astronomical clock, unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh on his lone visit to York two years earlier.

From there they went to Tempest Anderson Hall, where they met members of the Mystery Plays cast. Specially-bound copies of the full cycle of the plays were presented to them by the Festival Society.

Robbed of the opportunity to watch the performance, the Queen and the Duke boarded the royal train shortly after 9.15pm, instead of the 11.30pm departure originally scheduled.

"The Queen entered the lighted lounge and with a typical womanly gesture casually threw her handbag on a chair," the Evening Press observed. Then the train pulled out, taking the couple to another packed diary of engagements in Chester the following day.

Updated: 15:53 Monday, May 20, 2002