Community groups, arts organisations, school children and professional actors were among those who greeted the Queen and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, as they arrived for the official opening of Storyhouse in Chester.

The £37m cultural centre, which opened its doors to the public in May 2017, prides itself on the way it brings together the entire community with its inclusive approach and this was reflected throughout today’s royal visit.

The Queen and Duchess arrived on time just before noon after travelling from Runcorn and Widnes having completed their first official duty of the day - the opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

Before going inside the cultural centre, the royal visitors stood outside and observed the minute’s silence to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London.

Queen Elizabeth II and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Storyhouse, Chester

Their first stop inside Storyhouse was The Den in the children’s library where they met with local police community support officer Eva Williams, Erica Jones from Deafness Support Network and Ash Grove Farm Nursery.

Then Storyhouse Young Leaders took part in a workshop with the centre’s partner charity Passion for Learning and Blue Coat Primary School before observing needlework with the Syrian Refugee Women’s Group, supported by Forfutures.

The royal visitors also chatted with the Digital Buddies drop-in group which provides help with IT across the generations and then watched a drama improvisation for over 50s with Improv Gym.

The first phase of the visit to Storyhouse concluded with a dance workshop from Fallen Angels Dance Theatre, a company set up for adults recovering from addiction.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greets the public as she visits Chester

At this point, the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex - accompanied by Storyhouse artistic director Alex Clifton and chief executive Andrew Bentley - made their way into the main Storyhouse theatre to join hundreds of VIP guests who immediately stood up to cheer and applaud as the royal visitors took their seats.

They were treated to the cast of A Little Night Music performing three songs from the venue’s current acclaimed production of the classical Stephen Sondheim musical.

Then the royal party was led back to the foyer of Storyhouse to take their seats to watch the cast of another current Storyhouse production, Swallows and Amazons, perform a song from the show before one of the major highlights of the visit: a performance by 300 Chester school children of the Tolga Kashif song A Drop In The Ocean.

The schools involved were: Kelsall Primary School, University Church Free School, The Queen’s Lower School, Chester Blue Coat CE Primary School, Upton Westlea Primary School, St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, St Werburgh’s R C School, Newton Primary School, Dee Point Primary School, Cherry Grove Primary School and The King’s Junior School.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Sussex on the steps of Chester Town Hall

The Queen’s final duty at Storyhouse was to unveil a special plaque to mark the official opening of the cultural centre.

The thousands of well-wishers who had packed into Northgate Street and Town Hall Square then got the moment they had all been waiting for as the Queen and Meghan went walkabout as they made their way towards the Town Hall steps, waving and saying hello to the crowds as they passed.

Admirers came from all over for a glimpse of the visitors, with some bringing their children along for their first royal experience.

Trudy Riley, Kim Smith, Lianne Evans and Nicole Luinenburgh all from Chester, made up to be seeing The Queen and Meghan

Trudy Riley, Kim Smith, Lianne Evans and Nicole Luijnenburgh, four friends from Chester, all said that as soon as they’d heard the news of the visit they all made their mind up that they would come to the event.

They said: “We’re very excited, all of us. It’s great for Chester and great for Storyhouse.”

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Sussex

Sam Ricketts from Newton, who has seen the royals before, also came down to be part of the crowd and brought her baby daughter Ella to share the experience.

Sam said: “I’m very excited. It’s Ella’s first time seeing the royals as well.”

David Ewart-Jones from Hoole, a self-confessed big fan of the royal family, also got into the spirit of the event with his festive Union Jack hat and flag, saying: “It’s got to be done.”

The royal visitors were greeted at the Town Hall by the Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Alex Black, and then went inside for the final engagement of their Cheshire trip: a formal lunch hosted by Cheshire West and Chester Council.