UK
23/03/2018 12:56 GMT

Harry And Meghan Given Rapturous Welcome From Young Of Northern Ireland

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have received a rapturous reception from the young people of Northern Ireland as they began a whirlwind visit.

Meghan and Harry’s unannounced trip to Northern Ireland will see them learn the history of the doomed Titanic, when they visit a Belfast visitor attraction telling the passenger ship’s story, and sit down to lunch in one of the city’s most famous pubs.

The prince and Ms Markle began their day-long visit at the former Maze paramilitary prison outside Lisburn where around 2,500 young people from both sides of the Irish border gathered for a peace-building event.

They received a hugely warm welcome from teenagers when they entered an enormous performance arena before watching some of the children deliver their “peace pledges”.

The cross-community gathering at the Eikon Centre, which is built on the site of the old Maze prison, saw teenagers share their hopes and dreams of a peaceful and reconciled future on the island.

Prince Harry (second left) and Meghan Markle with guests during a visit at the Exhibition Centre in Lisburn
Prince Harry (second left) and Meghan Markle with guests during a visit at the Exhibition Centre in Lisburn (Niall Carson/PA)

Peter Sheridan, chief executive of event host Cooperation Ireland, welcomed the special visitors and said the youth-led initiative was “integral to the development of a peaceful society in Northern Ireland”.

“To have so many young people in one place proactively speaking out in favour of peace and committing to living their lives through peaceful means can only bode well for society, and to have the royal family here to witness it makes it even more powerful,” he said.

The couple are on the latest leg of a tour of the UK that has already taken them to major centres like Edinburgh, Cardiff and Birmingham.

Kensington Palace said: “Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle are visiting Belfast today for their first official joint visit to Northern Ireland.

“Throughout the day, Prince Harry and Ms Markle will have the opportunity to meet members of the public, to learn how young people are shaping the future of Northern Ireland, and to visit some of the city’s most loved sites.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their visit to Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their visit to Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

When the couple first arrived they were greeted by Londonderry students Amber Hamilton, from Foyle College, and Ryan McCallion, from St Joseph’s Boys school, both 17, before meeting a number of dignitaries including Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Ms Markle looked stylish in a cream coat and top with a green skirt.

Later the couple will have lunch at the Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast’s atmospheric Victorian gin palace which is filled with a wealth of architectural features and is a major tourist attraction.

After dining they will go on a walkabout outside the building to meet the people of Belfast.

At the nearby campus of Northern Ireland’s next generation science park, Catalyst Inc, Ms Markle and Harry will meet some of Ulster’s brightest young entrepreneurs and innovators.

Their day will end with a tour of Titanic Belfast which tells the story of the famous ship, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to the vessel’s maiden voyage and tragic sinking with the loss of 1,500 lives in April 1912.