Prince Harry and ‘great addition’ Meghan Markle visit Belfast
Royal and fiancée visit peace initiative, pub, science park and Titanic museum in city
Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle made a whistlestop visit to Northern Ireland on Friday.
The tour was part of a commitment by the prince to visit all UK regions with his wife to be ahead of their wedding in May.
Royal visits, like many areas of life in the North, divide opinion and reactions to the couple ranged from bordering on hysteria to indifference.
The couple visited the Eikon Exhibition Centre in the Maze-Long Kesh complex outside Lisburn for a Cooperation Ireland youth peace building event.
Foyle College pupil Amber Hamilton (17) said Ms Markle was “absolutely stunning and so lovely.
“She was so humble and down to earth so easy to talk to. She was really interested in the peace pledges we made,” Amber said.
The pair then moved on to the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast for lunch and then met the crowds who gathered outside the famous Victorian pub to wish them well.
Legend has it that Patrick Flanagan, a Catholic, argued with his Protestant wife over the name of the pub. While the name is a nod to the British monarchy, his revenge was that the crown mosaic tiles on the floor by the entrance meancustomers stomp on the symbol every day.
Deborah McKee (32), a Belfast coffee shop supervisor, was among those who gathered outside. She remarked that “Harry is easy on the eye” and that “Meghan is going to be a great addition to the royal family”.
She said society was changing and the new generation of royals were “keeping up with the times”.
One Belfast man said he was glad to see them in Belfast city centre as “anything that gives positivity to the town is welcome”.
London-based student Kira Kearney (31), from Chicago, had just arrived in Belfast on a city break and was thrilled to have a “super cool story” about her visit.
“It’s very exciting,” she said.
Paul Newton (50), a project manager from Newcastle, England, said the “young blood and new regime” of the royal family “do alright” and that “him (Harry) and his brother (Prince William) are tip top”.
Geoff and Carol Smart from Bristol, were in Belfast to celebrate the latter’s 65th birthday, and were thrilled to stumble across the visit.
“They are a lovely couple,” Carol said. “He has had a lot of bad press but now is settled down and everyone is excited for him.”
After the pub the couple went to Catalyst Inc science park on the Queens Road to meet some of the North’s entrepreneurs and innovators before taking a tour of the Titanic Belfast tourist attraction.