The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived in County Tyrone today for the start of a two-day visit to Northern Ireland
In Cookstown, which has one of the longest high streets in all of Ireland, Their Royal Highnesses met members of the local community including trainees at the social enterprise Superstars Coffee Dock, who performed Greased Lightning for The Prince and The Duchess.
Superstars provides training opportunities for people with learning difficulties in a cafe and bakery as well as clubs and activities, an initiative which started off with just one club almost 20 years ago.
Chairwoman and Founder May McAvoy said they were delighted with the Royal visit in recognition of the work they do and volunteers who make it possible.
[The Prince] was very interested to meet as many of our young people as possible which was lovely.
We have a theatre group which meets on a Wednesday night in our local arts and cultural centre, and every June we put on a show and it’s a show which packs the place out like nothing else. They work at it all year and they just absolutely love it.
The Prince and The Duchess are the first members of the Royal Family to visit Cookstown.
Their Royal Highnesses went on a walkabout to meet well-wishers and were introduced to local business owners, schoolchildren and community members.
Later, The Prince toured 17th century Lissan House, where he met people involved in traditional crafts, artists and conservationists.
His Royal Highness also met Jill and Felix, two of the latest hedgehogs to be rescued by a local charity!
Andrea Cowan, who runs Loughgall Hedgehog Rescue, started the charity in a shed at the back of her house at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and has rescued 300-400 hedgehogs.
The Prince went on to mark Rural Support Northern Ireland’s 20th anniversary at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise. He met representatives and partners of The Prince’s Countryside Fund in Northern Ireland and the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster before cutting a cake and unveiling a plaque to mark the anniversary.
Meanwhile, The Duchess of Cornwall visited a Women’s Aid refuge where she spoke to residents and joined a reception for staff and volunteers.
In the evening, The Prince of Wales met with students supported by The Prince’s Foundation before going on to plant a tree in the Gardens of Hillsborough Castle for the Queen’s Green Canopy, as part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations
During the second day in Northern Ireland, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s visit focussed on some of the tourist attractions that Belfast has to offer and Their Royal Highnesses were able to meet with some of their charities.
The Prince and The Duchess began the day of engagements at C.S. Lewis Square, named in honour of the Belfast-born author whose original home is nearby.
Arriving at the Aslan statue, Their Royal Highnesses visited stalls along the Narnia-themed sculpture walk, each showcasing East Side Partnership’s community activities.
Escorted by ‘beavers’ and ‘robins’ of Narnia, The Duchess of Cornwall then visited the nearby Holywood Arches Library where she met library regulars, both old and young. Her Royal Highness, a keen reader herself, met staff from Libraries NI, the Knit and Natter group and the library’s book club.
Next, to mark the BBC’s centenary year, The Duchess became the first member of the Royal Family to visit BBC NI. Her Royal Highness toured the studios and met presenters and staff.
The Duchess’s final engagement was a visit to the popular tourist attraction, Titanic Belfast, to mark their 10th anniversary. Her Royal Highness heard about Belfast’s ship building history and toured the site before joining a reception with staff and representatives from the museum’s community partners.
The Prince of Wales meanwhile re-opened Belfast’s Grand Opera House which, in a normal year, sees more than 300,000 visitors with more than 75,000 watching the annual pantomime.
His Royal Highness met architects, conservators and interior designers involved in the restoration project and watched a short performance before meeting the tech team and performers on stage.
The Prince then heard how organisations across Northern Ireland are supporting refugees at a reception hosted at Titanic Belfast, before marking the centenary of the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation.
Lastly, The Prince of Wales marked the “Day of Reflection”, where the nation remembers the second anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, with a visit to Marie Curie, Belfast. The Prince is Patron of Marie Curie and was able to visit residents, families, and staff before contributing to the Wall of Reflection.