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Chelmsford has been awarded city status to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee.
The award has been made by the Queen on the advice of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, following a competition to bid for civic honours launched in December 2010.
Two other towns, Perth and St Asaph, have also been given city status and Armagh in Northern Ireland has been granted a lord mayoralty.
Mr Clegg said the decision to award a new city in England, Scotland and Wales, and a lord mayoralty in Northern Ireland, reflected the significance of every part of the United Kingdom in diamond jubilee year.
"Across the United Kingdom, I have been moved by the pride and passion which people have shown in putting their nominations forward,'' he said.
"The standard of application was very high, and those who missed out should not be downhearted.
Chelmsford MP Simon Burns said: "It has always surprised me that Essex does not have a city within its boundaries and so it is a particularly proud moment for the town to be awarded this honour."
Chief Executive of Chelmsford City Council, Steve Packham added, "We are delighted that Chelmsford has been honoured in this most
important of years and also that Essex has at last been recognised as the vibrant and successful county that it has become.
"Obviously the other towns in the competition will be disappointed; two were in Essex and I'm sure they will try again, but on behalf of everyone in Chelmsford we would like to thank Her Majesty for this great honour in her Diamond Jubilee year."