King and Queen complete two-day Northern Ireland trip in UK’s most westerly town
The King and Queen have completed their two-day visit to Northern Ireland in the UK’s most westerly town.
Crowds cheered and sang God Save The King at Enniskillen Castle in Co Fermanagh as Charles and Camilla did an impromptu walkabout before departing the region.
The King started the second day of the visit by attending a service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Co Armagh, attended by various religious leaders, while Camilla visited the Armagh Robinson Library and Museum, which is home to a number of local archaeological items.
Among the church leaders who gave readings at the service were the Church of Ireland’s the Rev John McDowell and Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin.
At the library, the Queen met children from Drelincourt Primary School and volunteers from Dementia NI, before signing a commemorative photograph for the museum.
The royals both met young school children, including two eight-year-olds sporting hand-made crowns called Charles and Camilla on cathedral grounds.
The King and Queen also met members of the Methodist College Belfast choir, who sang at the coronation in Westminster Abbey.
The royal couple then shook hands with several artisan food producers and were given various gifts by members of the public while a cultural performance took place on a stage at Market Theatre Square in Armagh.
Among those lining the path to the stage were four figures with large heads, representing legendary and historical characters associated with Armagh: warrior goddess Queen Macha, St Patrick, High King of Ireland Brian Boru and warrior Cu Chulainn.
They also met performers who gave a showcase of Ulster Scots, Irish, Chinese and South Asian cultures through traditional music, song and dance.
As the couple joined the Lord Mayor of Armagh Paul Greenfield on stage, Charles addressed the crowd and thanked the community for its hospitality.
“I did just want to say before we leave that it’s been the greatest pleasure to join you here today,” he said.
The King added: “I realise it was 23 years ago since I was last here, and I think opened The Market Place building, which I’m so pleased to see is still going strong and I hope making a huge difference to Armagh.
“But if I may say so it’s been particularly special to meet so many of you today, also a large number of school children whose exams, I suspect, we have totally disrupted.
“But I’ve told them that if they don’t pass their exams, it’s bound to be my fault.
“But thank you so much for the warmth of your welcome and indeed for showing us just what an enormously diverse and a number of cultures and traditions there are here now in this part of Northern Ireland.”
Charles said this “provides such an extra richness and contribution to the whole of society here”.
“So I do hope you have great success in the future and we look forward to seeing you again before too long, I hope,” he concluded.
Charles and Camilla then met people gathered along the road, waving Union flags and bearing gifts.
They shook hands with Rebekah Busby and patted her golden-doodle Teddy, who had chewed through his lead while waiting for the royals to walk by.
She said: “We’ve been here since 8.50am, so it’s a long stretch for my doggie, but we managed didn’t we Teddy?
“(Camilla) said ‘He’s absolutely lovely’. I think the King said ‘Oh my goodness, look at this dog!'”
Ms Busby described the atmosphere as “unreal”, and said she would go for ice cream after the royals had departed for their next engagement.
Charles and Camilla travelled by helicopter from Armagh to Enniskillen for their final engagement of the day and their trip.
Crowds of well-wishers cheered as they approached the 16th century castle, Charles wearing a grey suit and Camilla in an emerald green coat dress by Fiona Clare and emerald and diamond Cartier brooch which belonged to the late Queen.
They were greeted by the High Sheriff for Co Fermanagh Noelle McAlinden and Fermanagh and Omagh council vice chairman Allan Rainey while they were serenaded by the Caritas Chamber Choir.
Local school children and Army cadets were lined up to welcome the King and Queen into the historic courtyard while a community choir performed Rather Be by Clean Bandit.
There was also a display of dancing put on by Irish dancers and Ulster Scots dancers reflecting Northern Ireland’s two main traditions.
Charles and Camilla appeared touched to learn about the Kindness Postbox initiative, which aims to help those who are isolated and disconnected, before meeting those involved with The Big Lunch in Fermanagh.
Thanking the King and Queen for their visit, Mr Rainey presented them with a specially made coronation basket from Belleek Pottery.
Large crowds had gathered outside the castle by the end of the engagements.
Camilla was drawn to a family with an Australian flag and kangaroo teddy bear, and greeted them saying, “All the way from Australia?”, to be told by one of the ladies she was originally from Enniskillen and brought her family home for a visit.
Catholic priest Father Brian D’Arcy said it had been a lovely day for Fermanagh, and praised the King and Queen for a “great job” chatting to so many people.
“Fermanagh is forgotten in many ways and it was lovely to see them taking time to realise that people down here are valuable too,” he said.
“We showed off our county as best we can, the water, the tourism, the friendliness, the cross-community, co-operation between churches – all of that was on show today, and all of that is really Fermanagh.”
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