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Meghan Markle and the Queen arrive in Cheshire

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Meghan Markle and the Queen arrive in Cheshire

The Duchess of Sussex has enjoyed her inaugural overnight trip on the Royal Train with the Queen, ahead of her first day of engagements with the monarch.

Meghan arrived at Runcorn Station this morning after travelling up from London with the head of state on the distinctive burgundy-liveried locomotive.

Their day in Cheshire is designed to offer Meghan, 36, a masterclass in how to conduct royal engagements, just a month after her wedding.

It was around ten months after her own nuptials before the Duchess of Cambridge undertook a similar day of events – and will no doubt be viewed as a sign of royal confidence in the former actress.

The Queen has been on the throne for 66 years and has conducted tens of thousands of public engagements, shaking hundreds of thousands of hands along the way.

Former actress Meghan looked stunning in a simple cream dress with a cape top, while Her Majesty was vibrant as ever in lime green.  

The Queen and the duchess arrived at Runcorn Station before departing by car for the nearby Mersey Gateway Bridge.

After being greeted by architects and dignitaries, they will watch a performance by local schoolchildren entitled ‘Bringing Communities Together: Halton’s river crossings over the ages.’

The Queen will unveil a plaque to formally open the bridge before she and Meghan travel to Chester visit the city’s Storyhouse, a remarkable new library, theatre and cinema which has attracted more than a million visitors in its first year.

They will meet a Syrian settlement group learning craft works and watch a performance by Fallen Angels, a dance theatre company for people recovering from addiction, before moving to watch a medley of songs from the theatre’s latest production, ‘A Little Night Music’.

Before they leave they will also be treated to a performance by local schoolchildren alongside actors from ‘Swallow and Amzons’ and the monarch will unveil her second plaque of the day to mark the Storyhouse’s official opening.

No royal visit would be complete without a walkabout, and although Meghan has done a number of these already, she will join the Queen for a short meet and greet on their way to nearby Chester Town Hall for a civic lunch. 

The pair travelled by train, which costs around £900,000 a year to run, is only used by the sovereign, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have never been on it for an official engagement.

But the Queen, now 92, prefers to use the train overnight when travelling long distances in the UK.

ON BOARD THE ROYAL TRAIN  

The monarch has invited Meghan to accompany her for a day of engagements today and MailOnline understands that, given the distances involved, the train set off yesterday – arriving at Runcorn station this morning. 

While the Queen always tends to make long distance journeys on her train overnight, it will be quite the eye-opener for her new grand-daughter-in-law.

The locomotive consists of nine carriages in total, however, these are often reduced to seven depending on the number of people travelling, and Her Majesty is said to described it as one of the few places where she can relax in total privacy.

At over 150 years old it is the only private, non-commercial train service catering to one family still in operation in the UK and these photos offer a rare glimpse into Britain’s most exclusive railway service. 

Much of the nine-carriage train currently in service dates back to 1977 when it was extensively used during the Silver Jubilee tours and while a novel experience, it is terribly dated and not entirely luxurious. 

In fact, photographs of inside the train show how it is now a lot more functional, in contrast to the plush interiors that it used to boast in its glamorous heyday.

This comes after criticism over the expense of the royal train, which cost taxpayers £900,000 in 2016. 

Royal sleepover! The Duchess of Sussex stayed on board the Royal train (pictured) alongside the monarch who has invited Meghan to accompany her for a day of engagements

Royal sleepover! The Duchess of Sussex stayed on board the Royal train (pictured) alongside the monarch who has invited Meghan to accompany her for a day of engagements

Royal sleepover! The Duchess of Sussex stayed on board the Royal train (pictured) alongside the monarch who has invited Meghan to accompany her for a day of engagements

The pair were last seen together at Trooping of the colour,

The pair were last seen together at Trooping of the colour,

They will arrive at Runcorn Station on Thursday morning

They will arrive at Runcorn Station on Thursday morning

The pair, who were last seen together at Trooping of the Colour, set off yesterday – arriving at Runcorn station this morning

Her Majesty’s personal saloon is 75ft long and fitted with secondary air suspension giving passengers an exceptionally smooth and comfortable ride.

It has a bedroom, decorated in light pastel shades, with a 3ft-wide single bed in one corner (there are no double beds on the Royal Train) made up with cotton sheets and woollen blankets. 

While Prince Philip’s pillows are plain, the Queen’s are trimmed with lace, with a small Royal cipher in one corner. The ceiling has subdued strip lighting and there are several reading lamps near the bed.

The adjoining bathroom has a full-size bath, but the fittings are modest and functional. 

Photographs of inside the train show how the decor is a lot more functional now.  Pictured are chairs situated in The Duke of Edinburgh's Carriage aboard the royal train, featuring a neutral colour scheme

Photographs of inside the train show how the decor is a lot more functional now.  Pictured are chairs situated in The Duke of Edinburgh's Carriage aboard the royal train, featuring a neutral colour scheme

Photographs of inside the train show how the decor is a lot more functional now.  Pictured are chairs situated in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Carriage aboard the royal train, featuring a neutral colour scheme

The table is set in the dining room in this photo, taken back in 2006, and shows that the train has received a simpler makeover through the years

The table is set in the dining room in this photo, taken back in 2006, and shows that the train has received a simpler makeover through the years

The table is set in the dining room in this photo, taken back in 2006, and shows that the train has received a simpler makeover through the years

In fact, the train used to look a lot more glamorous in its heyday. Pictured: The royal carriage built in 1869 for Queen Victoria (1819-1901) by the London and North Western Railway at their Wolverton Works in Buckinghamshire

In fact, the train used to look a lot more glamorous in its heyday. Pictured: The royal carriage built in 1869 for Queen Victoria (1819-1901) by the London and North Western Railway at their Wolverton Works in Buckinghamshire

In fact, the train used to look a lot more glamorous in its heyday. Pictured: The royal carriage built in 1869 for Queen Victoria (1819-1901) by the London and North Western Railway at their Wolverton Works in Buckinghamshire

The train operators make sure the carriages are not crossing any bumpy points just after 7.30am: that could make the water slop around when the Queen is taking her bath. The train’s speed is always lower than the normal maximum for any route.

The sitting room has a sofa with hand-stitched velvet cushions, armchairs and the small dining table where the Queen and Prince Philip have breakfast. 

The table can be extended to seat six people. There is also a desk in one corner where Her Majesty works on her official papers.

Although she has enjoyed several meetings with the Queen and spent time with her at Windsor Castle, the overnight journey will be unprecedented for Meghan.

A photo of the Prince of Wales's Lounge on the royal train, taken in 2001, demonstrates how the train has been updated to reflect changing tastes and trends

A photo of the Prince of Wales's Lounge on the royal train, taken in 2001, demonstrates how the train has been updated to reflect changing tastes and trends

A photo of the Prince of Wales’s Lounge on the royal train, taken in 2001, demonstrates how the train has been updated to reflect changing tastes and trends

Staff accommodation aboard the train features a single bed and several illustrations to brighten up the interior

Staff accommodation aboard the train features a single bed and several illustrations to brighten up the interior

Staff accommodation aboard the train features a single bed and several illustrations to brighten up the interior

The train also features an office for Her Majesty (pictured in 2002) to conduct her work while travelling 

The train also features an office for Her Majesty (pictured in 2002) to conduct her work while travelling 

The train also features an office for Her Majesty (pictured in 2002) to conduct her work while travelling 

How old is the Royal Train?

At over 150 years old, the Royal Train is the only private, non-commercial train service catering to one family still in operation in the UK.

The train came into existence during the reign of Queen Victoria who was the first reigning sovereign to make a train journey when she travelled from Slough to Paddington, London, on June 13, 1842.

In 1869 she commissioned a special pair of coaches at a cost of £1,800: a considerable sum in those days. Victoria remains to this day the only monarch to have paid with her own money for Royal carriages to be built.

When her son succeeded to the throne as Edward VII, he ordered a completely new Royal Train in the second year of his reign, 1902, with the instructions that ‘it is to be as much like the Royal Yacht as possible’.

Royal sleepover! The monarch has invited Meghan to accompany her for a day of engagements on Thursday and the pair will travel together on board the Royal Train (pictured)

Royal sleepover! The monarch has invited Meghan to accompany her for a day of engagements on Thursday and the pair will travel together on board the Royal Train (pictured)

Royal sleepover! The monarch has invited Meghan to accompany her for a day of engagements on Thursday and the pair will travel together on board the Royal Train (pictured)

The interior had bedrooms, dressing rooms, day rooms and a smoking room. It boasted three-speed electric fans, electric radiators and cookers and even an electric cigar lighter.

The King’s favourite was his smoking room, which was manned by two liveried footmen, one just to light His Majesty’s cigars and the other to adjust the curtains and windows in case the sunlight was too strong, or fresh air was required.

His son and successor, George V, had the distinction of installing the first bath on a train anywhere in the world.

While Queen Victoria’s was the first train in the world to have a lavatory installed on board – in 1850, at the suggestion of Prince Albert – only the Prince Consort used it in the early days of Royal progress. 

Members of the entourage who invariably accompanied the Queen had to wait until the train stopped and then use public lavatories.

While the train is fitted with several sleeper carriages the locomotive never travels through the night, instead making stops at secret locations away from the mainline so that the royal passengers can sleep uninterrupted.

The overnight stops are usually made about an hour’s travelling time from the final destination. 

This means the Royals are able to rise, bathe, dress, have a leisurely breakfast and then be briefed by their private secretary on the day’s programme as the train completes its journey. Arrivals are usually timed so that they do not disrupt any normal rail schedules.

The appearance of the Queen’s current saloon is a long way from the velvet interiors and plush furnishings of carriages of the Victorian era.

Today the carriages are fitted with far simpler furnishings with a light wood cladding and each window fitted with a pair of drapes to ensure the utmost privacy. 

The journey provided the queen a chance to spend some ‘quality time’ with Harry’s new bride, with relatively few interruptions. 

In 2016 royals travelled on the distinctive liveried train just 14 times at a cost of £900,000 to taxpayers.

Buckingham Palace officials admit it is expensive, but say the Queen, 92, finds it more comfortable to use on overnight on long-distance journeys.

The train came into existence during the reign of Queen Victoria who was the first reigning sovereign to make a train journey when she travelled from Slough to London Paddington on June 13, 1842.

In 1869 she commissioned a special pair of coaches at a cost of £1,800: a considerable sum in those days. Victoria remains to this day the only monarch to have paid with her own money for Royal carriages to be built.

When her son succeeded to the throne as Edward VII, he ordered a completely new Royal Train in the second year of his reign, 1902, with the instructions that ‘it is to be as much like the Royal Yacht as possible’.  

The interior had bedrooms, dressing rooms, day rooms and a smoking room. It boasted three-speed electric fans, electric radiators and cookers and even an electric cigar lighter.

Photographs show how the train looked much more luxurious back in the day. This royal carriage was built for Edward VII by London and North Western Railway and was known as the smoking carriage where the family would retire after dinner 

Photographs show how the train looked much more luxurious back in the day. This royal carriage was built for Edward VII by London and North Western Railway and was known as the smoking carriage where the family would retire after dinner 

Photographs show how the train looked much more luxurious back in the day. This royal carriage was built for Edward VII by London and North Western Railway and was known as the smoking carriage where the family would retire after dinner 

While the train is fitted with several sleeper carriages the locomotive never travels through the night, instead making stops at secret locations away from the mainline so that the royal passengers can sleep uninterrupted. Pictured: Edward VII's sleeper from back in the day 

While the train is fitted with several sleeper carriages the locomotive never travels through the night, instead making stops at secret locations away from the mainline so that the royal passengers can sleep uninterrupted. Pictured: Edward VII's sleeper from back in the day 

While the train is fitted with several sleeper carriages the locomotive never travels through the night, instead making stops at secret locations away from the mainline so that the royal passengers can sleep uninterrupted. Pictured: Edward VII’s sleeper from back in the day 

This picture shows how the train's decor has changed over the years. The Royal Saloon built by East Coast Joint Stock built in 1908 and used by Edward VII (1841-1910) and later Queen Mary (1867-1953) features elaborate decoration and a writing desk

This picture shows how the train's decor has changed over the years. The Royal Saloon built by East Coast Joint Stock built in 1908 and used by Edward VII (1841-1910) and later Queen Mary (1867-1953) features elaborate decoration and a writing desk

This picture shows how the train’s decor has changed over the years. The Royal Saloon built by East Coast Joint Stock built in 1908 and used by Edward VII (1841-1910) and later Queen Mary (1867-1953) features elaborate decoration and a writing desk

Previously, the dining car (picture taken in 1966) once featured elaborate wood paneling and the table is impeccably laid out ahead of the royal's dinner  

Previously, the dining car (picture taken in 1966) once featured elaborate wood paneling and the table is impeccably laid out ahead of the royal's dinner  

Previously, the dining car (picture taken in 1966) once featured elaborate wood paneling and the table is impeccably laid out ahead of the royal’s dinner  

The King’s favourite was his smoking room, which was manned by two liveried footmen, one just to light His Majesty’s cigars and the other to adjust the curtains and windows in case the sunlight was too strong, or fresh air was required.

His son and successor, George V, had the distinction of installing the first bath on a train anywhere in the world.

While Queen Victoria’s was the first train in the world to have a lavatory installed on board – in 1850, at the suggestion of Prince Albert – only the Prince Consort used it in the early days of Royal progress. Members of the entourage who invariably accompanied the Queen had to wait until the train stopped and then use public lavatories.

While the train is fitted with several sleeper carriages the locomotive never travels through the night, instead making stops at secret locations away from the mainline so that the royal passengers can sleep uninterrupted.

The overnight stops are usually made about an hour’s travelling time from the final destination. This means the Royals are able to rise, bathe, dress, have a leisurely breakfast and then be briefed by their private secretary on the day’s programme as the train completes its journey. Arrivals are usually timed so that they do not disrupt any normal rail schedules.

The appearance of the Queen’s current saloon is a long way from the velvet interiors and plush furnishings of carriages of the Victorian era.

Source: MailOnline

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