YORK had a long wait to see the Queen after her visit in 1988. The city did not host the sovereign during the Nineties, but that only heightened the sense of expectation when it was announced she would tour York on July 27, 2000.

Cheering crowds greeted the arrival of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at York station. After arriving on the Royal Train, the Prince Henry, they were met by a party including city MP Hugh Bayley and his wife Fenella.

The Queen's lime green coat and matching wide-brimmed hat brightened an overcast day. She was met in Micklegate by the Lord Mayor, Shan Braund, who performed the ancient welcome ceremony.

Both the Queen and the Duke then talked to members of the crowd, many of whom were waving Union flags or wore clothing in red, white and blue. Several children had faces painted in the same patriotic colours.

The royal couple were accompanied on their walkabout by music from the York Waits, a band who have their own place in royal history. The Waits, first formed in the 15th century, had previously greeted James I, Charles and probably Richard III and Henry VIII.

The next stop was York Minster. Twelve years after she had admired its restoration, the Queen was back inside Europe's largest Gothic cathedral.

She was met there by the Archbishop of York. It was at the invitation of Dr David Hope that the royal couple were in the city. He led a service of thanksgiving for the Millennium.

Afterwards the Queen chatted to people who had gathered outside in Duncombe Place.

She proved to be a hit with old and young, tourists and residents. Lily Evans, on holiday from Michigan, USA, was one of the first to talk to the Queen. "It's made my vacation, but my knees are still shaking from meeting her," Lily said.

"I think she's really cool," was the verdict of an 11-year-old boy who said hello.

Lunch was a private affair at the Treasurer's House.

In the afternoon, the rain that had long threatened started to fall as the Queen toured Museum Gardens. Sheltered by a see-through umbrella, the Queen cut a red ribbon to release 500 yellow and blue balloons to launch the Summer Daze play scheme.

She and the Duke then separated to tour different tents and meet York children taking part in a range of summer holiday activities organised by the council.

They then moved into the Yorkshire Museum, which was hosting the Walking With Dinosaurs exhibition, based on the television documentary of the same name.

Prince Philip quizzed the series producers enthusiastically about how they made the show.

The Queen came face to face with the giant moving head of an Ornithocheirus - or at least a model of the flying reptile. She, too, was impressed by her journey back through millions of years, remarking: "It's truly amazing how much creatures have changed over time."

Having escaped from the fearsome-looking dinosaurs, the Queen and the Duke said a spirited goodbye to the museum staff, and to York. And York awaits with anticipation their next visit.

Updated: 16:30 Tuesday, May 28, 2002