A SMILING Queen received a warm Wearside welcome as she arrived in Sunderland during a day to remember.
Excitement mounted as £50million super-yacht Leander G, on which Her Majesty spent the night moored metres from Corporation Quay, meandered down the Wear.
As it docked, cheers erupted from the crowd as Prince Philip appeared on deck to look out at the cranes that dominate the Port of Sunderland skyline.
Moments later, the sky was filled with a deafening roar as a Vulcan bomber, first flown in 1952 - the year Her Majesty became Queen, flew past.
Looking radiant, the Queen stepped off the yacht with the Duke of Edinburgh at her side, wearing a light orange dress and coat by Stewart Parvin and matching hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan.
She was met with a sea of blue, red and white flags, cheers of “congratulations” and rapturous applause from the crowd of 200 Wearsiders who won their waiting spot.
Wearing a wide smile, she shook hands with waiting dignitaries, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland, Council Leader Paul Watson and Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim, before walking down the red carpet.
Her Majesty then took a step back in time as she explored the specially-constructed Sunderland Diamond Jubilee Exhibition.
Starting in the decade that saw her take to the throne, the Queen was greeted by Wearsiders enjoying a mock 50s Coronation street party.
She met Reverend Martin Anderson, of Sunderland Minster, who told her about the church’s Jubilee celebrations.
He said: “She asked me where the Minster was, and Prince Philip was excited to hear the church was involved in celebrating the Jubilee.
“It was wonderful to have the people of Sunderland recognising the work the Queen has done for the country and nation.
“She is a person of dignity, and her dedication over the years has been overwhelming.”
She then went on to relive the 1966 World Cup win, with youngsters from Southwick Primary School on hand to re-enact the match that saw England lift the trophy.
Pupil Bethany Lawson, 10, said: “The Queen came and had a look at what we were doing and asked us about it.
“It was a very special moment and I was very nervous but she was nice.”
The royal party was then treated to Sunderland in the 70s as housewives prepared the food for a street party celebrating the 1977 Silver Jubilee.
Sunderland university graduate Lucy Eager, 21, was one of those was role-playing for the Queen.
“I was welling up and trying not to cry when she was talking to us,” she said. “I was that emotional.
“She asked us if the bread was real and we said it was. Prince Philip said it smelt lovely.
“I couldn’t stop watching her, she’s such a lovely person and is very warm. She has the nicest smile and really twinkly eyes.”
Next was a visit to the first Sunderland International Airshow in 1988.
Christina Berriman, 30, of Washington, was one of the actresses playing a reveller enjoying a picnic at the now-annual show.
“I was so excited to meet her that I was overwhelmed but it was a really good experience,.
“She asked if we were allowed to eat the food and I said we were and we were looking forward to it – it was very strange.”
Thomas Rea, 20, of Ashbrooke, was a pretend pilots.
“I was very nervous and I stumbled over my words a bit, but she was very normal, which is surprising.
“Not everyone gets to be inches away from one of the most famous people in the world. It’s an honour.”
Next was a visit to the 90s, which saw Sunderland awarded city status and a flourish of new buildings being built.
Leighton Group chairman Paul Callaghan was one of the Sunderland businessmen to greet the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, who were keen to learn more about the city’s thriving software industry.
Mr Callaghan said: “The Queen was interested to learn that you can create software here and sell it onto the world.”
The millennium tent introduced the Queen to the digital age and Jessica Johnston, 10, of Southwick, showed how to play her favourite iPad game, Cut the Rope.
The youngster said: “She asked what the iPads did and I showed her how to play one of the games.
“She was very interested. I was pleased to meet the Queen.”
The final area was dedicated to 2012 and the Olympics. Southwick Primary School pupils performed a slow-motion relay race before receiving their medals on the podium.
Pauline Walmsley, community manager at the school, said: “She asked the children what colour their medals were and they showed them to her. She seemed really interested.
“We were all very nervous, but it was a brilliant experience. She was very tranquil and came across as very pleasant and approachable.”
Sunderland University chancellor and athlete Steve Cram also met the royal couple.
“She asked me if we are ready for the Olympics and, of course, the answer’s ‘yes’.
“Thirty years ago she presented me with a gold at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games and I cannot believe it is that long ago.
“I was talking to someone who is around 19 or 20 last night, and what is so nice is that she was really excited when I told her I was going to see the Queen.
“It’s testimony to what she still means to people.”
HUNDREDS lined Keir Hardie Way as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh made their way through Sunderland.
Families, the elderly, and schoolchildren were among those out to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty as she passed the Stadium of Light.
Union flags and cheers greeted the Royal car as it slowed down, allowing the couple wave to the onlookers.
Among the early arrivers were Sarah Ogleby, 26, of Sunderland, and 52-year-old Joanna Vezmar.
Sarah said: “We’ve followed her all year. We went down for the wedding and we were on the Mall for the Jubilee.
“We wanted to be a bit closer this time. I love the Royal family, we should be proud of them.”
Joanna added: “We’re just so lucky to have her.”
Sisters Anne and Louise Brook, from South Shields, were keen to see the Queen.
Anne, 50, said: “She only comes up to the North East every few years so you’ve got to come out and see her.”
Louise, 55, added: “It would be better if she was going on a walkabout, but obviously it’s difficult to organise that with security.
“Even if she just goes past in the car though, we can say we’ve seen the Queen.”
Lydia Peverley, 78, of Sunderland, was determined to brave the gusty weather to be there.
“I have great respect for the Royal family and I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said.
“If the Queen can come out in this inclement weather then so can I.”
Houghton’s Pam Liddle was seeing Her Majesty for the fifth time, including in Peterlee, while Amy Staughton, 26, from Monkwearmouth, wanted to make the most of the occasion.
She said: “I feel you’ve got to come and see the Queen if she’s in your city, it’s nice to say you’ve seen the Queen.
“It doesn’t happen all the time.”