King and Queen make coronation visit to Northern Ireland

It was also chance for the Belfast garden party

The King and Queen are on a Coronation tour of the nations of the UK, starting with Northern Ireland, where they have spent the past two days.

The visit was kept secret until Charles and Camilla touched down in the country and their first visit was to Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, where they officially opened the new Coronation Garden.

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The Coronation Garden has been designed by Diarmuid Gavin, who was born in London to Irish parents and brought up in Dublin. He has presented a number of medal-winning gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show and is a successful author. The garden marks the beginning of a new green initiative for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

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The King and Queen tour the coronation garden (Royal Family)

A large flowering meadow of 932 square metres frames the garden, including a variety of annuals and perennials. It is a 100% ‘Island of Ireland’ wildflower seed mix.

The garden has been built and grown using composted, recycled and reclaimed local materials, which will please King Charles.

The couple toured the garden, meeting with representatives of community and charity organisations and Sinn Féin MP John Finucane, who does not take his seat in the London-based House of Commons, as is Sinn Féin policy.

In honour of a competition to design a coronation bench, the couple took a seat on the winning design to pose for a photo, and chatted to the youngsters responsible for its creation.

The King and Queen then made their way to Hillsborough Castle, their official residence in Northern Ireland. There, they met with schoolchildren from a local primary school who had designed a coronation bench, winning a competition.

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Also in attendance was Northern Irish Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.

It was then time for a garden party, during which they planted a tree. Guests included those who have made an impact in their local community, such as volunteers and charity workers.

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Each year, a handful of garden parties are hosted at Buckingham Palace, with another at Holyrood and one at Hillsborough.

The second day began at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh, where The King met with church leaders representing all denominations in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, The Queen was over at the Robinson Library, where she met with children and volunteers and members of the Dementia NI Empowerment Group. During the visit, she learned the role that libraries play in making people living with dementia feel safe and welcome.

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The Royals reunited at Market Theatre Square, where they attended a Celebration of Culture, which showcased the Ulster-Scots, Irish, Chinese and South-Asian cultures that thrive in Armagh and the greater Northern Ireland community.

Traditional music and songs were taken in by the couple, while others performed dances. Charles and Camilla also tried local produce and met with the producers before greeting members of the public who had gathered to see them.

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The King and Queen then travelled to Enniskillen to visit the castle. There, they met with local community representatives, joined children taking part in ‘The Kindness Postbox’ initiative in addition to a Big Lunch, in celebration of their recent coronation.

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More coronation celebration visits to Scotland and Wales will follow this one, before the couple will take August off and relax, following a packed coronation and summer schedule.

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