Royal visit: Britain's Duchess of Cambridge meets her biographer and number one fan

The Duke and Duchess are on a two-day visit to Northern Ireland

The Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to the Braids Arts Centre in Ballymena to see the workings of the CineMagic charity as part of their two day visit to Northern Ireland. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

The Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to the Braids Arts Centre in Ballymena to see the workings of the CineMagic charity as part of their two day visit to Northern Ireland. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

 

It was a lucky day for the Duchess of Cambridge when she travelled to Ballymena on Thursday with her husband Prince William.

For there to meet her was her biographer, Hanna Ritchie.

Indeed Hanna is so far advanced in her work that she has three pages written on her subject. Now after her very special exclusive interview it is possible it could stretch to four pages.

Hanna is a nine-year-old pupil of Ballykeel primary school in Ballymena currently immersed in her project on the duchess.

Her teacher Susan McKeegan brought Hanna and the rest of her P6 class to stand outside the Braid town hall, museum and arts centre that the couple were visiting on Thursday, hoping to get a glimpse of the couple. They did much better than that.

Hanna Ritchie, with her teacher Susan McKeegan, who had something special to say to the Duchess of Cambridge when she met her in Ballymena in Thursday.
Hanna Ritchie, with her teacher Susan McKeegan, who had something special to say to the Duchess of Cambridge when she met her in Ballymena in Thursday.

The excitement was huge but they were so well behaved. “It was fantastic, it was such an experience for those children,” said Ms McKeegan.

“They made banners and posters for them before they came here today. They waited patiently and they all did us very proud,” she added.

But would Hanna get her special moment with the duchess?

Step forward Ms McKeegan who acting as a sort of publicity agent told the duchess about the impending publication, prompting the interview between royal and biographer.

The duchess was delighted to oblige. Afterwards Hanna explained how she told Kate about her work and how she was writing all about her life and background.

“I asked her what was it like being a princess and stuff,” said Hanna. “And she said, ‘I like being a princess because I get to travel around the world and meet all you lovely children and stuff’.”

Hanna explained that she thought she was finished the biography but she now might have a little bit more to write.

This after a busy day of activities in Belfast and Co Fermanagh was the second and final day of the couple’s Northern Ireland visit.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public as she arrives for a visit to the Braid Centre. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public as she arrives for a visit to the Braid Centre. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to the Braids Arts Centre. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to the Braids Arts Centre. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The royals were welcomed by hundreds of local people when they went on the walkabout in the centre of the town.

Prince William took one side of the street outside the centre, the duchess, wearing a dusty light blue coat with cape attached, the other.

It was clear who was the bigger draw. Emma Boyd, a native of Ballymena now living in Ballynahinch, Co Down travelled back home with six-month-old baby Ezra to see the royal couple.

Ezra too was all smiles for the princess. It was his first royal encounter, said Ms Boyd.

“Kate was so impressive, so warm, so natural,” she added after she spoke to Kate and the princess admired her son.

And that was the general view. “She was fabulous, absolutely fabulous,” said Joanne Fulton.

Her friend Bronagh Dobbin was even more enthusiastic. “She is even more beautiful in real life,” she said, “and so down to earth, and kind and tall, and thoroughly interested in the children.”

After this great welcome the British royals entered the Braid centre where they met members of the Cinemagic charity and learned how film, television and digital technologies are used to educate, motivate and inspire young people.

Also on hand was the North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley.

They later went to the St Joseph’s Surestart facility close by in the town to hear about the programme that supports parents with children aged under four years of age living in disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland.

They were briefed about how Surestart provides various activities for the youngsters and how it also supports men’s group and family groups.