THE Queen’s visit to County Durham in November 1991, to officially open the £40m Fujitsu factory in Newton Aycliffe, was bookended by remarkable encounters with her subjects at either end of the age spectrum.

Having flown into Teesside Airport, Her Majesty was driven to Durham City where a ten-year-old lad was desperate to catch her attention.

Unable to do so by conventional means, he turned to the local dialect and bellowed: “How! Queenie.”

As with practically every single one of her visits to the region, it was rather nippy, so when Her Majesty regally acceded to the lad's request and graced him with her presence, he asked if she wanted a mint to warm her up.

She politely declined. Her vivid purple coat was bright enough to keep out even the Durham chill.

Having dined at the castle she climbed into her car, but as the royal convoy was leaving Durham, a 25-year-old unemployed man from Ushaw Moor rushed in front of the vehicles. He claimed he was trying to draw attention to the plight of the homeless, and said: "I'm not an anarchist or an anti-royalist, but it was the only way I could make people sit up and listen."

The Queen looked shocked by the incident but had recovered her composure by the time she reached 'the world's most advanced microelectronics plant' in Aycliffe.

On arrival she was presented with a posy of flowers by Becky Gray, nine, from Aycliffe Village School. Becky made sure her posy reached its intended royal recipient by writing a special note on it that it was for the Queen and no-one else.

"I think she liked my message," said the delighted youngster. "Everyone at school thinks the Queen is smashing."

The Queen was welcomed to the plant by Fujitsu chairman Takuma Yamamoto and managing director Shino Fujimoto. In attendance were local MPs Derek Foster, Tony Blair and Michael Fallon.

For a tour of the factory, the Queen's purple coat and its matching wide-rimmed hat were replaced by a blue plastic gown and blue plastic peaked cap. Her black formal shoes, with a slight but sensible heel, were replaced by white, flat slip-ons, and her black gloves were replaced by latex rubber ones.

Surrounded by scientists in white protective suits, complete with white face masks, this created one of the most memorable pictures of Her Majesty in The Northern Echo’s archive.

“It was necessary to kit out the Queen and Prince Philip in special clothing when they toured the plant's sophisticated dust and vibration free clean room,” explained the paper. “Filtration equipment ensures air in the clean room is a million times cleaner than the air we breathe and everyone who visits must wear special clothing.

“But at least the Queen was spared the need to wear a full face mask. The Duke of Edinburgh had to put on a full oversuit and mask. He looked like a surgeon about to commence an important operation as workers explained how the plant produces up to 500,000 microchips every month.”

After changing back into her own coat and shoes, the Queen unveiled a commemorative plaque and was, in turn, presented with a crystal sphere which Fujitsu said represented "the purity and movement of water" – a crucial ingredient in the manufacturing process.

As she left the factory, Her Majesty made a beeline for 100-year-old Mary Sambrook, of Hackworth House, Shildon, who had been waiting in her wheelchair for an hour for a glimpse of the royal visitor.

The Queen walked up to Mary and asked: "Have you got my telegram?"

“You could have knocked me down with a feather," said Mary.

Perhaps it was expecting too much for the Queen to have learned how the natives address one another from the start of her visit, and begun her conversation with the centenarian by bellowing: “How! Mary.”