The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have completed a two-day visit to Northern Ireland – continuing her 90th birthday celebrations – where Her Majesty quipped she ‘was still alive’ when asked if she was well. The Royal couple also visited the Giant’s Causeway.
Beginning on Monday, The Queen and Prince Philip travelled to Hillsborough Castle, the Royal residence in Northern Ireland. There, the Monarch held audiences with the First Minister, Arlene Foster, and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
It was here that Her Majesty showed off her infamous sense of humour: Mr McGuinness asked her how she was, to which she replied “Well, I’m still alive,” before making comments about the busy time she was having with her two birthdays.
Their first engagement on Tuesday was a tour of the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring 40,000 black basalt columns, protruding from the sea, created after a volcanic eruption.
The Queen “was asking about the formation of the roc,” said Neville McConachie, the visitor experience supervisor at the National Trust site, “and I was telling her it was either caused by nature or a giant, and I believe a giant.
Legend has it the Giant’s Causeway was built by Irish giant Finn MacCool so he could cross the North Channel to do battle with a Scottish giant. The existence of similar stone columns on the Scottish isle of Staffa helped build the legend down the centuries.
“People did say that he [the Scottish giant, Benandonner] actually moved to America, but I was asking her was he maybe knocking about Balmoral,” he joked.
The weather was a bit blustery for the Royal visit, but crowds still flocked in their droves to see the Sovereign.
Her Majesty and Prince Philip were last in the Irish contingent of the UK in 2014, with Prince Charles and Camilla visiting just last week, with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a garden party at Hillsborough the week previous.
It was then onto Bushmills, a local village, to commemorate local soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, Robert Quigg.
Quigg won his award for going out into the line of fire to search for his commanding officer during the Battle of the Somme, the centenary of which will be celebrated on 1st July.
Her Majesty unveiled a statue of the soldier as well as a commemorative stone.
After a reception at Portrush Golf Club as guests of the mayor for the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the Royal couple took the train from Coleraine, County Londonderry, to the village of Bellarena.
This was a repeat of the journey The Queen and Duke took in 1953, on a 1932 steam engine.
In Bellarena, the Monarch officially opened the village’s new train station, the original having begun receiving passengers in 1853.