THE Queen was told “the only way is Essex” as thousands of people turned out to welcome her to the county.

Her Majesty visited Chelmsford Cathedral for a service marking the centenary of the Chelmsford Diocese before heading along to Felsted School in north Essex to mark its 450th birthday.

The Queen, visiting alongside the Duke of Edinburgh, wore a cream dress and matching hat and was given three big cheers and a warm welcome from those who had gathered to see her at the cathedral - her first visit there since 1988.

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Once inside the cathedral, she listened to a sermon from the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Revd Stephen Cottrell, who managed to crack a joke about TOWIE.

He said: “We serve the most rural, the most urban, the most coastal, and I wish to add, the most glorious diocese in the Church of England. You name it; here in the Diocese of Chelmsford, we've got it.

“Yes, you could even say, the only way is Essex, but I want to tell you about a better way and its roots in this old county - the way of Jesus Christ.”

Laura Murphy, 27, dived out of her office to catch a glimpse of the Royals.

She said: “We were really excited to her. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to the Queen where you live. You could feel and see the excitement of the people that were here.”

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The Chelmsford Diocese takes in the whole of Essex and five east London boroughs and pupils from schools including The Cathedral School made up the choir.

Following the service, and before heading on to Felsted School, the Royals visited the Diocese offices opposite the cathedral, where they met with staff and volunteers.

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Hundreds of people gathered to wave their flags and welcome the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to Felsted School.

Pupils and teachers lined the road outside the school and were joined by an ever-growing crowd of excited villagers and spectators, who filled the air with cheers and applause as the royal couple emerged from their cars just after 12.30pm.

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Among the crowd were friends Maureen Reeve, 72, and Veronica Chopping, 74, both of Chestnut Walk, in Felsted.

Miss Chopping said: "We have been waving our flags at everyone as well as the Queen.

"I saw her before when she came to the cathedral in Chelmsford many years ago. But it’s more exciting this time because we were closer to her and this is where we live."

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After a rousing welcome from spectators, the royal couple were greeted by Dr Michael Walker, headmaster of the school, head boy Sam Seacombe, head girl Lydia Carrington and other officials.

Once inside they were treated to a celebratory lunch before her Majesty unveiled two plaques in the Lord Riche Hall, to mark the 450th anniversary and commemorate the rebuilding of Follyfield House Boarding House, which was lost to a fire in 2012 and recently rebuilt.

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The school choir sang a specially-composed anthem before the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were presented with a bunch of flowers, by pupil Mary Alcott, and with a Felsted teddy bear by prefect Oliver Stonahan, 13.

After the visit, the Queen and her husband made their way to their helicopter before taking off to grand applause.

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