Belfast communities gather to celebrate royal wedding
‘Meghan and Harry will help modernise the royal family for generations to come’
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry leave St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle following their wedding. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/Pool via Reuters
There was red, white and blue bunting as far as the eye could see on Belfast’s Shankill Road as the community gathered to celebrate the royal wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Hundreds of people were at the Community First royal wedding party at the Linfield Supporters Club in Jumna Street on Saturday for a street party and live screening of the nuptials.
Outside the venue families waving union flags basked in the glorious sunshine.
While the adults chatted, ate burgers and enjoyed the weather little ones were jumping up and down on bouncy castles, having their faces painted and tucking into union flag party bags full of sweets and treats.
Margaret McCauley and her daughter Anichelle posted for pictures by life-size cardboard cut outs of Harry and Meghan which were flanked by giant balloons emblazoned with ‘Shankill Road celebrates Harry Meghan 19-5-2018’.
“She’s beautiful,” Margaret said.
Melissa Faulkner, at the party with her children Luca and Albie, described the day as “once in a lifetime”.
“Meghan is lovely,” she said.
“It is nice to have somebody different in the royal family and it’s good to celebrate and keep our tradition by bringing a bit of Britain over here.”
Baron of Kilkeel
Harry and Meghan have been given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with Harry also now known as the Baron of Kilkeel, after the Co Down fishing town.
Community First organiser Charlie Butler, also manager of the Linfield Supporters Club, said locals wanted to celebrate the couple and he was thrilled to welcome such a “beautiful wee girl” as Meghan into the royal family. “It is really good to see the royal family diversify,” he said. “Absolutely brilliant.”
Former Lord Mayor of Belfast Brian Kingston, a DUP councillor, praised Community First and said Meghan was “a wonderful addition to the royal family”.
“It will be another generation before we have this same level of royal wedding,” he said.
“It is lovely to see the community coming together to enjoy the day.”
Inside the club groups of women had arrived early to secure seats in front of the big screen televising the wedding coverage and service.
Lyndsey Hanna is mega Meghan fan. “I love Meghan,” she said. “She’s so down to earth.”
Lisa Glass, who had dressed five-month-old baby daughter Lillie in a royal themed outfit complete with union flag tutu, said the party would be a memory to look back on. “We will remember it forever,” she said.
Donna Bates spoke of her joy at the community celebrating together “in good times instead of bad times”.
Street parties were organised in locations across the North with a range of hotels and venues running special royal wedding themed parties.
The excitement on the Shankill was shared in the city centre at the Europa Hotel, where manager James McGinn cut a dashing figure in his morning suit, as he and the Hastings team ensured a sold-out royal afternoon tea ran smoothly in the piano lounge and restaurant.
“Even I got out of my bed and into my grey morning suit and yellow tie,” James said.
“We have had people queuing from 10am to get the best seats.”
Fizz and tea were served with sandwiches, scones and pastries, plus a special lemon and elderflower cake, similar to that chosen by the royal couple for their day.
Julie Ann Kennedy from Aghalee, Co Antrim, brought her family to the event. “It’s a lovely girls afternoon out,” she said. “Meghan is an absolutely beautiful princess. The service was beautiful, very different but lovely. Meghan and Harry will help modernise the royal family for generations to come.”
Cathy Wicks from Waringstown, Co Down, was at the Europa with her two sisters, her mother and her mother’s two sisters. “We love the royal family,” she said. “I think Meghan looks stunning and Harry looks dashing as ever.”
Cathy’s sister Jayne Jackson thinks the royal couple are doing important work in society.
“I like all the charity work they do, especially the mental health work,” she said. “It is a really important message for the royal family to use their popularity to make a difference.”