FIFTEEN thousand people packed into York city centre for a hugely successful Maundy Thursday visit by the Queen.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Beatrice of York on her first official engagement in the city, she was cheered by huge crowds at Micklegate Bar, the Minster, Mansion House and the Museum Gardens.

After arriving at York railway station, the royal party was taken to Micklegate, where they were greeted by young winners of the Press Community Pride Awards who presented them with posies in front of crowds of onlookers.

Travelling on to the Minster, thousands of people, many waving Union Flags and carrying flowers for the Queen, gathered in the sunshine to see the royal party.

A massive cheer greeted their arrival before the Queen went on to present Maundy money to 172 recipients - pensioners nominated for the honour for their service to the church and community.

The Royals then posed on the steps of the Great West Door alongside the Queen’s Yeoman, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, Dean of York Keith Jones and flower children.

Following a reception in the Deanery, the party went on to the Mansion House for a civic lunch attended by local dignitaries and the winners of the Community Pride Awards 2011.

Paisley Laws, 18, the winner of the spirit of youth award, said she was seated next to Princess Beatrice for the event. She said: “I will remember it forever, it was an overwhelming experience, I had to remind myself it was real.”

The visit ended with a visit to a new exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum marking the 800th anniversary of York being granted a Royal Charter by King John.

The Princess said she had thoroughly enjoyed her first official visit to York, and revealed she may return to the city this summer - prompting an invitation by organisers of this summer’s Mystery Plays to come and watch the outdoor spectacular.