The Duchess of Sussex has begun her first official visit with the Queen, arriving in Cheshire by royal train.

The royal visitors stepped onto the blustery platform at Runcorn station to be welcomed with polite handshakes and curtsies from local dignitaries – and wild cheering and applause from hundreds of flag-waving schoolchildren.

Meghan, 36, who married the Queen’s grandson Prince Harry last month in the gothic splendour of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, is beginning her rites of passage as a royal newcomer with a visit to Runcorn and Widnes, towns on the banks of the Mersey famous for chemicals and rugby league.

All eyes were on the duchess as she passed another royal milestone, joining the Queen for an event without her husband for the first time.

The itinerary for the US-born former actress and the 92-year-old monarch included officially opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge, a £1.86 billion six lane toll crossing designed to ease traffic between Runcorn and Widnes.

But the opening event was at the Catalyst Museum in West Bank, Widnes, which offers a bird’s eye view of the new crossing from the glass top observation gallery.

Later the pair will arrive in Chester to open the Storyhouse Theatre, before attending a lunch at Chester Town Hall.

It will be the Queen and the duchess's first joint engagements together.