Royal Visit NI – Charles and Camilla attend church and meet Belfasters

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Northern Ireland yesterday to begin their two-day visit.

Charles and Camilla arrived at St Patrick’s Church, Belfast, for a short prayer service. Whilst there, they also met a cross section of church-goers, groups and organisations involved in the church’s activities.

The couple were given a piece of art based on Lavery’s famous painting as they left, as well as Aran knitwear was for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Prince Charles then visited a community centre in East Belfast, which had been refurbished with some funding from The Prince’s Regeneration Trust. The centre, a former school, had been derelict from 1976 after closing from low pupil numbers.

The Trust aims to rescue redundant historic sites, at risk of demolition or decay, so that are can be reused and regenerated for community.

The Prince said in a speech: “Having met several people here today who were at school here I am even more delighted and thrilled that I have had a chance to see this building restored back to life and being used in such an incredible, valuable and worthwhile way.

“The fact that it is working so well to bring members of both communities together in such an effective way is even more encouraging.”

Charles received another painting, this time by Irish artist Ross Wilson, based upon a 1927 photograph of the preserved building when it opened as Templemore School.

The Duchess of Cornwall, meanwhile, attended a Big Lunch event at the Skainos Centre, following a visit to a local Credit Union. Camilla got stuck in at the centre, and decorated a cupcake, prepared a salad, and assisted painting a chair.

She lamented her culinary skills, saying her son’s were far better; Tom Parker-Bowles is a chef and published author.

Pupils from the nearby Victoria Park Primary School, were helping the Duchess, who also spoke with members of the community. She told them The Big Lunch, of which she is patron ‘is about getting people talking and making people happier.’

The Big Lunch is a street-party style get-together for neighbours to help foster community spirit, and began in 2009. It occurs the first Sunday of June each year.

The Duchess signed the visitors’ book to mark her visit, and made an unplanned walkabout, greeting the crowds that had gathered to see her in East Belfast.

The couple finished their evening with a reception at Hillsborough Castle with 100 other guests, and were treated to a dance performance.

Featured image: Army Medicine

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