Northern Ireland news

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Northern Ireland

 Meghan Markle greets well wishers on Great Victoria Street after enjoying lunch in the Crown Bar. Picture by Brian Lawless, PA

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ate Irish stew and sausage and mash on a visit to the Crown Liquor Saloon as part of their one-day visit to the north. 

They left Titanic Belfast, which was their final engagement of the day, at around 4.30pm.

First on their itinerary this morning was a visit to the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn to mark the second year of Co-operation Ireland's youth-led peace building initiative called Amazing the Space which Harry officially launched when he visited the north last year.

 

The couple then ate 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.

Andrew Dickinson, pub manager of the Crown, later confirmed Ms Markle had the Crown Bar Irish stew made with lamb shoulder, carrots, onions and potatoes.

While Harry picked sausage and champ, three Gloucester old spot sausages with champ which is an Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, chopped spring onions, butter, milk and cheese.

The pub manager added: "They're two of our most popular dishes and on a hectic day it would have kept them going."

He said they were poured half a Guinness and half a Mourne Gold Pale Ale to sample, but also had soft drinks with their lunch.

 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Crown Bar in Belfast. Picture by Gareth Fuller, PA

Mr Dickinson said "I'm sure they liked them, they're both great drinks", but he did not believe it was the first time the American actress had tried the famous Irish drink: "I saw on Twitter she'd poured a Guinness before so maybe not."

Speaking about the visit to the Crown he said: "It's a very iconic building in Northern Ireland, most people have come here at some point so it's great that they wanted to put it on their itinerary as well."

Ms Markle revealed that they had been anticipating their trip to the well-known Victorian gin palace, which is owned by the National Trust and famed for its ornate decorations.

Harry joked with Heather McLachlan, the National Trust's director for Northern Ireland, asking "Are you open?", before declaring "We want food".

His fiancée added: "We saw the menu last week, and said 'We'll have this'."

The couple marvelled at the pub, which features period gas lighting, a red marble-topped bar, mosaic tiled floor and snugs - ornately carved wooden booths with stained glass where Victorian drinkers could sit in private.

Looking up at the ornate ceiling, Harry said: "It's amazing, it really is."

The antique bell system that drinkers used to call staff still exists and may have been used by the couple to order their lunch of Irish stew in a snug.

After dining the couple went on a walkabout outside the building to meet the people who had lined Great Victoria Street.

Harry made the first group of well-wishers laugh when he said: "Are you all trying to get into the pub?"

 Prince Harry greets well wishers. Picture by Joe Giddens, PA

Ellen Hawthorne (38), who married husband Nathan last August said: "I suggested New Zealand as a honeymoon destination because I went their last year for a month after my wedding."

Mrs Hawthorne from Ballyclare said: "I told her it was lovely and she said she'd keep it in mind."

The royal wedding was also the conversation topic for Alex McConkey (52) when she chatted to the couple: "I told them congratulations and that I was really, really happy for them.

"And I told Meghan I'd miss her terribly in Suits, because I'm a big fan and she said the next series is coming out soon."

Ms Markle could not contain her joy about her May 19 wedding when she spoke to Shirley Begley (51) from Larne, who said: "She said she was really excited about the wedding and was looking forward to it."

 Meghan Markle greets well wishers on Great Victoria Street after enjoying lunch in the Crown Bar. Picture by Brian Lawless, PA

 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Picture by Gareth Fuller, PA

At the nearby campus of Northern Ireland's next generation science park, Catalyst Inc, Ms Markle and Harry met entrepreneurs and innovators.

Harry and Ms Markle also met a husband and wife team who make innovative baby products, such as hypoallergenic Moses baskets and non-slip baths.

In a light-hearted moment, Ms Markle pointed to the product range and said: "I'm sure at some point we'll need the whole (lot).

The couple were met with a gory sight when they were introduced to the entrepreneurs behind a company that makes prosthetics for the movie industry.

Dismembered feet, fingers and hands were shown to Harry and Ms Markle.

The props are used in the hit fantasy drama series Game Of Thrones, which is mostly shot in Northern Ireland.

Their day ended 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 infamous sinking.

Upon his arrival, Harry was presented with a model of the Titanic by six-year-old Lleyton Jackson.

Rosie Jackson (four) gave Ms Markle a posy of flowers.

The couple chatted to the children and shook their hands before moving to the next stage of the engagement.

Ms Markle is wearing a cream coat by Mackage, a dark green dress by Greta Constantine, a cream top by Victoria Beckham, tobacco heels by Jimmy Choo teamed with a tan-coloured Charlotte Elizabeth bag.

  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Picture by Brian Lawless, PA

In keeping with royal visits to Northern Ireland details were not released in advance and the itinerary was not disclosed for security reasons.

The US actress began her tour of Britain and Northern Ireland with Harry in Nottingham a few days after their engagement announcement at the end of November last year.

In Brixton, the historic home of London's Caribbean community, Meghan and Harry visited a local community centre, then they travelled to Cardiff, with Meghan getting an introduction to Welsh culture.

Edinburgh welcomed the coupled who visited the city's historic castle and they also toured Birmingham.

Harry visited Northern Ireland last November when he opened a new ambulance station in Ballymena, Co Antrim. and also visited Belfast and Hillsborough Castle.

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. Picture by Brian Lawless, PA

The Reverend Dr David Latimer walks with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn. Picture by Niall Carson, PA

 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to marry in May. Picture by Brian Lawless, PA

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to marry in May

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