The Earl and Countess of Wessex visited Northern Ireland for a busy day of engagements on Thursday.
The first stop on the couple’s busy tour was to South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon. The Earl and Countess of Wessex met with staff and community groups who will use the leisure centre.
They spoke to medical professionals involved in the Coronavirus vaccination rollout, where South Lake hosted as a regional vaccine centre. Edward and Sophie unveiled a plaque to officially open the new leisure centre.
The Earl spoke to some of Northern Ireland’s sporting talent, rower Philip Doyle and swimmer Daniel Wiffen, who both competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games!
Speaking at the event, Lord Mayor Alderman Glenn Barr said: “It is an honour and a privilege today to have The Earl and Countess of Wessex present with us to celebrate the official opening of the largest investment project within our council area to date, one that we as members of the council are extremely proud of.”
Prince Edward visited Northern Ireland last year to see how businesses and community groups were coping amid the pandemic.
The next visit was to local business, Craigmore Trees, a specialist tree nursery in County Armagh.
Edward and Sophie learnt about the Centenary Trees for Schools scheme, for which the business is the official supplier. Over 1,100 schools in Northern Ireland will be offered a tree to plant in honour of the centenary of the nation.
The royal couple had the opportunity to meet with schoolchildren who have already chosen their selection of trees, additionally learning about local horticulture in the community.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex popped in to Elmfield Estate, where the couple attended the Elmfield Whole Food and Wellbeing Market, hosted in the grounds.
The couple chatted with the local traders about a range of food produce and sustainable living crafts that was on offer, as well as engaging with the facilitators of the wellbeing taster experiences.
During the visit, The Countess of Wessex was caught by surprise when she sampled fiery whiskey! Sophie grimaced and spluttered after taking a sip of the drink.
The royal guests were intrigued by the personal stories of the traders and facilitators attending the market, and took a keen interest in the unique qualities of the items on display and being demonstrated. TRH were provided with a number of engaging taster demonstrations that have been designed to nourish the mind, body and soul, which they enjoyed.
Launched in June, the market already attracts 1,500 visitors each month.
The couple stopped off at the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum. They treated to a VIP tour of the museum by Paul Allison, Museum Manager, who showcased the exhibition items on display and explained their many historic royal connections.
The Earl and Countess watched the production of a bespoke Irish linen napkin on a nineteenth century Jacquard hand loom and even tried their hand at the spinning wheel!
Edward and Sophie also dropped in on a craft workshop with Flaxie, Lisburn Museum’s mascot for younger visitors, as part of their visit to Northern Ireland. During the workshop, the royal visitors met children from Barbour Nursery.
The final engagement for The Earl and Countess of Wessex was at the Balmoral Show. The Queen’s son and daughter-in-law met organisers, exhibitors and participants at the annual agricultural event, which showcases the very best of Northern Ireland’s agri-food and rural sectors.
They also visited the equestrian arena, cattle hall and Northern Ireland Food Pavillion.