As we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, next year we will be celebrating another worthy milestone from our monarch’s lengthy reign; 20 years since she first visited Havering.

On a sunny spring day in March 2003, Queen Elizabeth II came to Romford and Hornchurch for her maiden tour of the borough.

The visit was inspired by a letter sent to the Queen by a 14-year-old local boy, George Barlow.

George wrote asking her to come by after his disappointment that she had missed the celebrations held for her in Romford the previous year, which had been organised for her Golden Jubilee.

Romford Recorder: Prince Philip stops for a chat during a visit to Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, 2003Prince Philip stops for a chat during a visit to Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, 2003 (Image: Archant)

On the day itself, thousands of residents turned out in Romford’s Market Square to welcome Her Majesty and Prince Philip, with the atmosphere described by the Romford Recorder as like a “party”.

One of those in attendance, trader Ian Clarke, told the Recorder a decade after the tour: “I presented the Queen with a plastic bowler hat full of sweets. She was much smaller than I thought she would be.

“It was a beautiful day and probably one of the highlights of my life.”

Another of those there on the day was former Havering councillor Alby Tebbutt, who was caught on camera making the Queen giggle.

On what he had done to humour Her Majesty, Mr Tebbutt said: “I said to her: ‘It’s a good job I didn’t meet you 30 years ago.'

"‘Why is that?’ she asked. I looked at Philip and jokingly said: ‘Because he wouldn’t have stood a chance.'

“The Queen lowered her handbag, put her hand on her stomach and started to laugh.”

As well as Romford, the Queen also visited a number of other sites throughout the borough.

This included Redden Court School in Harold Wood; Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, to unveil a plaque celebrating the theatre’s 50th anniversary; and the new HQ for the Havering Association for Voluntary and Community Organisations in Eastern Avenue.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations will take place this year from June 2 to 5.

To commemorate the occasion, we have produced a special souvenir magazine, charting Her Majesty’s 70-year reign in 164 pages of pictures and tributes.