Queensferry Crossing Gets Royal Seal Of Approval

4 September 2017, 12:22 | Updated: 4 September 2017, 12:24

Queensferry Crossing Queen

The Queen has officially opened the UK's tallest bridge in a special ceremony just days after the first traffic rolled across it.

The monarch, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, cut a ribbon to signify the formal opening of the new Queensferry Crossing across the Firth of Forth.

Hundreds of people, mainly schoolchildren, cheered as the Queen - who is to become a grandmother again after it was announced the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her third child - cut the ribbon.

The symbolic move took place on the south side of the bridge after the royal couple met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, constructors' representatives and local officials.

The bridge was also blessed by Church of Scotland Moderator The Right Rev Dr Derek Browning.

The event to unveil the £1.35 billion crossing after six years of construction work is taking place exactly 53 years on from the day when the monarch opened the neighbouring Forth Road Bridge.

The Red Arrows marked the occasion with a flypast while a flotilla of boats travelled under the bridge.

Philip's attendance at the event sees him making his first official appearance alongside the Queen since retiring from solo royal engagements last month.

He bid farewell to his own royal jobs at Buckingham Palace at the start of August but officials stressed he may still accompany the monarch at her events from time to time.

The formal ceremony is the high point in a week of events marking the opening of the bridge more than a decade after plans for the feat of civil engineering were drawn up.

On Monday of last week, the crossing was illuminated by a night-time light show to reflect the symbolic handover of the bridge from contractors to the Scottish Government.

The first cars drove over the structure in the early hours of Wednesday, with many of the motorists sounding their horns and blowing whistles as they travelled over it.

Sightseers eager to try out the crossing when daylight came then contributed to long delays on its first day of operation.

The bridge then closed again on Friday to allow 50,000 people the opportunity to take part in a "once-in-a-lifetime" chance to walk over the bridge during the weekend, ahead of the royal opening event.

It will reopen to traffic on Thursday.

The 1.7-mile Queensferry Crossing - the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world - is the third structure connecting the Lothians and Fife, and sits slightly to the west of the Forth road and rail bridges.

Construction of the trio, beginning with the world-heritage-status Forth Bridge in 1883, spans three centuries.

The need for a new bridge for vehicles emerged 13 years ago when inspections of the Forth Road Bridge's (FRB) main cables uncovered a loss of strength.

Construction of the Queensferry Crossing began in 2011, with a variety of milestones marked along the way.

More than 10,000 people have worked on the site at some point, clocking up over 13 million hours of work.

The Queen was driven to the north side of the bridge, where she made a short speech before unveiling a plaque.

As well as being a "breath-taking sight", she said the new bridge would be an "important link" between the Lothians and Fife.

It sits alongside the Forth Road Bridge and the Forth Rail bridge, with the Queen stating: "The three magnificent structures we see here span three centuries, are all feats of modern engineering and a tribute to the vision and remarkable skill of those who designed and built them."

Around 24 million vehicles are expected to use the crossing each year, reducing the strain on the older road bridge.

The new bridge has a projected life of 120 years but could last for longer than that, experts believe.