Queen visits Lord's for Ashes

Queen Elizabeth II (Gallo)
Queen Elizabeth II (Gallo)

London - Queen Elizabeth II watched wickets tumble as she visited Lord's on Thursday to watch the start of the second Ashes Test between England and Australia.

With the start of play having been delayed by 15 minutes to accomodate the visit, the royal standard was raised before the Queen, monarch of both Britain and Australia, walked out of the iconic Lord's Pavilion and on to the field, where both teams were lined up to greet her.

The head of state -- wearing a blue hat, blue dress and white jacket with blue trim -- was first introduced to the Australia team as captain Michael Clarke led her down the line of players.

And, as the last of the 28 825 sunbaked, sell-out crowd took their seats, England captain Alastair Cook and his side took their turn for a handshake and a brief word with the monarch.

The sovereign was given three cheers by both teams and then applauded from the field as she headed back to the Pavilion, where she was introduced to coaching staff from both sides before taking a seat to watch some of the first session.

Former Australian prime minister John Howard was sat next to Queen Elizabeth in the Pavilion and he could not contain his excitement when Cook's wicket fell, clapping enthusiastically.

And when England batsman Joe Root was given out leg before wicket, the decision was referred to a third umpire behind the scenes, who used technology to check the verdict.

England women's captain Charlotte Edwards talked the monarch through what was happening as images showing the heat marks left by the ball on Root's bat and were screened for the crowds.

"I was trying to explain the DRS (Decision Review System) and I think she understood it," Edwards said.

"I was telling her if the ball hits the pad first it's out, even if the ball goes on to hit the bat.

"Having her here makes it an extra special day, the excitement around the ground this morning grew when she arrived."

England had lost three early wickets by the time the sovereign left.

This was scheduled to be Queen Elizabeth's penultimate engagement before leaving next week for her traditional summer break at her private Balmoral estate in Scotland.

The 87-year-old said Wednesday she hoped her grandson Prince William's heavily-pregnant wife Catherine would give birth soon before she heads off on holiday.

Lord's is regarded as the 'home of cricket' and is owned by the Marylebone Cricket Club -- the guardians of the laws and spirit of the game.

The north London ground will celebrate its bicentenary next year after being established by cricketer and businessman Thomas Lord in 1814.

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