Home Latest News Britain’s King Charles arrives in Northern Ireland for first visit as monarch – The Irish Times

Britain’s King Charles arrives in Northern Ireland for first visit as monarch – The Irish Times

Britain’s King Charles arrives in Northern Ireland for first visit as monarch – The Irish Times

Britain’s King Charles III has arrived in Northern Ireland for the first time as monarch.

The king, accompanied by the queen consort Camilla, was greeted by a group of dignitaries including the new Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris at Belfast City Airport after their flight from Edinburgh.

Lord Lieutenant of Belfast Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle and Belfast City Airport chief executive Matthew Hall were also present as the royal couple left their plane at just after noon.

The king who is on his Operation Spring Tide tour around the UK, and queen consort are to travel to Hillsborough Castle in Co Down, the royal residence in Northern Ireland, for several engagements.

Ella Smith and Lucas Watt, both 10, of Forge Integrated Primary School in Belfast, presented the King with a gift of truffles with an image of the Giant’s Causeway on the tin, while Camilla was given a small posy of flowers taken from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle.

Hundreds of people are gathering in the village of Hillsborough in Co Down ahead of the arrival of the royal couple.

Large numbers are already lining near Hillsborough Castle with the crowd standing five-deep behind metal barriers. The area at the front of the gates to Hillsborough Castle, the official royal residence in Northern Ireland, has been carpeted with hundreds of floral tributes. Spectators are being driven into the village on shuttle buses amid a massive security operation.

Michael Poots, principal of Downshire Primary School in Hillsborough, said the visit of the King and Queen Consort to the Co Down village will make it a “wonderful day”. A number of students from the school will meet Charles and Camilla.

“It is great that as a school we can be part of it. We are so close to (Hillsborough) Castle and the children are greatly looking forward to it,” Mr Poots said.

“You can hear the excitement. They are looking forward to meeting the King and, of course, the Queen Consort today. We are all going into the village and hopefully we will get a glimpse of them.”

At Hillsborough Castle the king will view an exhibition about the late Queen’s long association with Northern Ireland.

The king will then meet Mr Heaton-Harris and as well as representatives of political parties in the North. Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill, the party’s first minister-designate, will attend the Hillsborough reception because it is to honour the Queen. The party said it would not, however, participate in events marking Charles’s accession to the throne. Ms O’Neill will attend the queen’s funeral next week after receiving an invite, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald confirmed on Tuesday.

At 1.20pm, a message of condolence from the speaker of the Stormont Assembly Alex Maskey will also be delivered to the royal couple.

After a short reception at Hillsborough, the king will travel to St Anne’s Cathedral for a service of prayer and reflection on the life of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

President Michael D. Higgins and Taoiseach Micheál Martin will represent the State at the memorial service. British prime minister Liz Truss will also attend but it is not expected that the two leaders will hold talks in Belfast. But it is understood that efforts are under way to set up a meeting next week when the Taoiseach travels to London for the queen’s funeral.

The event is expected to draw large numbers into the city centre, as the royal couple carry out a series of engagements in the North to mark the new reign. A significant security operation is under way.

Mr Higgins’s wife Sabina and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will also attend.

It is expected they will undertake a walkabout at Writers’ Square beside St Anne’s Cathedral in the afternoon before they depart.

The trip by the king on Tuesday follows a visit to Scotland on Monday, with a trip to Wales planned for later in the week. – Additional reporting PA/Guardian

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