The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex fell silent to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy as they teamed up for their first official visit together since the royal wedding.
They were in Chester at noon and joined people up and down the UK in observing the silence in memory of the victims of the fire.
The occasion added a sombre note to the otherwise happy tour of Cheshire, which drew large crowds.
It began on a blustery platform at Runcorn station, where the Queen and duchess were welcomed with polite handshakes and curtsies from local dignitaries – and wild cheering and applause from hundreds of flag-waving schoolchildren.
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 monarch appeared to enjoy the company of her new granddaughter-in-law, who was wearing a neutral pencil dress by Givenchy.
They were clearly at ease in each other’s company, smiling and chatting as the duchess completed an important royal rite of passage.
The Queen and Meghan, 36, who married Prince Harry last month in the gothic splendour of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, started their tour with a visit to Runcorn and Widnes, towns on the banks of the Mersey famous for chemicals and rugby league.
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.
They also visited the Catalyst Museum in Widnes, which offers a bird’s eye view of the new crossing from the glass top observation gallery.
They then headed to the historic city of Chester for more engagements.
But everything stopped at noon when they both stood in silence along with other dignitaries and crowds of well-wishers outside the Storyhouse theatre.
The Queen and Meghan were cheered by screaming crowds as they arrived in the centre of Chester.
Many had lined the centre of the city for hours waiting for the royal party, and there was a heavy police presence, including many officers on rooftops.
Thousands of people crammed behind barriers in Northgate Street as the pair walked the 200m from the Storyhouse arts centre to the town hall in the sunshine.
The Queen walked down one side of the road and Meghan down the other as they stopped to chat to people and collected dozens of floral bouquets and other gifts.
Meghan was spotted showing her wedding ring to one group of well-wishers.
On the other side of the road, many of those waiting to greet the Queen shouted “Meghan”, trying to get the duchess’ attention.
Earlier, the royal party had toured the Storyhouse centre where they sat through a number of performances.
The duchess appeared delighted at what she was watching, especially the songs by a choir of local school children.
Meghan walked slightly behind the Queen as they made their way through the complex.
As they sat through the performances, the duchess – who smiled almost continuously – occasionally leaned over to comment to her grandmother-in-law.
After walking down the main street, the Queen and Meghan appeared on the town hall balcony to deafening cheers from the thousands below.