THE Queen is coming to meet the people of Herefordshire in July.

She has expressed a wish to visit and give her support to all aspects of community life in the county.

Her Majesty will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and is expected to spend two days in Herefordshire and neighbouring Shropshire on July 10 and 11.

Neither county had a visit during the Queen's countrywide tour to mark the Golden Jubilee and this summer's drop-in is partly to compensate.

Confirming the July date a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said it was not specifically to promote tourism, more to meet communities.

The Queen's representative in Herefordshire is the Lord Lieutenant, Sir Thomas Dunne.

At the moment he is seeking clarification on whether the Queen will visit on the 10th or 11th, and how many hours she will be able to stay in the county.

When this is clear he will draw up a suggested programme for the Royal couple but it will be several months before details are finalised.

It is understood the Queen and the Duke would prefer a relaxed and more informal visit as opposed to formal civic engagements.

The Queen last made an official visit to Hereford in 1996 when she went to see the Mappa Mundi at the Cathedral. Last Autumn she and the Duke carried out a private visit to 22 SAS Regiment at its new HQ at Credenhill.

It is known that the Queen expressed a wish to visit Herefordshire when parts of the county were struggling to cope with the horrors of foot and mouth disease.

Country people, especially in the south and west of the county endured months of slaughter, the sight of pyres of burning animals and dreadful smoke and smells.

As the countryside was stripped of animals many called themselves the 'forgotten people' of the foot and mouth disaster with all the national emphasis being put on Cumbria and Devon.

A Royal visit would have done much to dispel the despair but it was not allowed, for a variety of reasons, including difficulty in providing adequate security at the time.

Visits to communities recovering from foot and mouth, as well as to areas where people suffered severe flooding in recent years could well be on the agenda for consideration for the July Royal visit.

But many would like the Queen to have happy memories of Herefordshire too, by allowing her to see some of the beautiful countryside.

Lieutenancy officer Paddy Wilde said meetings would soon be taking place to look at the options and consultations would be taking place with Shropshire neighbours who were sharing the two-day visit. The Queen will be making her first visit to Shropshire for 20 years.