Princess of Wales told 'Ireland belongs to the Irish' as she's heckled during walkabout in Northern Ireland

6 October 2022, 16:38 | Updated: 6 October 2022, 18:37

William and Kate told 'Ireland belongs to the Irish' in Belfast

By Asher McShane

The Princess of Wales was confronted by a woman on a meet-and-greet in Northern Ireland who suggested she wasn’t in her ‘own country’, telling her “Ireland belongs to the Irish.”

While shaking hands with the Princess, the woman said: “Nice to meet you but it would be better if it was when you were in your own country.”

The woman, who appeared to be videoing the exchange on a mobile phone, added: “Ireland belongs to the Irish.”

Hundreds of people had lined the Marine Highway in Carrickfergus as the Prince and Princess of Wales carried out a visit to the Co Antrim town.

The Prince and Princess of Wales are in Northern Ireland for a day-long visit to the region.

The Princess of Wales meeting 1-year-old Barney Barr and his mother Laura-Ann Barr in Belfast
The Princess of Wales meeting 1-year-old Barney Barr and his mother Laura-Ann Barr in Belfast. Picture: Alamy

William and Kate are fulfilling a number of engagements with cross-community organisations that provide support to people from all backgrounds.

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They began with a visit to suicide prevention charity PIPS in north Belfast.

Lord mayor Tina Black and Sinn Fein MP for the constituency John Finucane were among those who welcomed the royal couple on arrival.

Inside, 12-year-old Elyse Quinn, the daughter of the charity's executive director Renee Quinn, presented the princess with a bouquet of flowers.

PIPS was founded in 2003 following the loss of 14 young people to suicide in Belfast over a short period of time the previous year.

The Prince and Princess of Wales with Vice Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Miranda Gordon, during a visit to Carrick Connect, a youth charity based in Carrickfergus
The Prince and Princess of Wales with Vice Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Miranda Gordon, during a visit to Carrick Connect, a youth charity based in Carrickfergus. Picture: Alamy

Compelled to act, stakeholders from across the city came together to try to tackle the issue.

During their visit, William and Kate spoke with staff about their work helping people at risk of suicide and self-harm.

The charity also arranged for them to take part in an art therapy session, painting pumpkins, with some vulnerable children who have been supported by PIPS.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation has seen a significant rise in those reaching out for help.

That includes an increase of more than 500% among young people.

At the close of their visit, the prince and princess joined a group of volunteer counsellors in packing up the charity's Little Boxes of Hope.

The support packages are given to children following their time with PIPS to assist their ongoing recovery and ensure that their parents and guardians feel better equipped to cope.

After the visit to PIPS, the couple travelled into Belfast city centre to view Trademarket, a new outdoor street-food and retail market where they took part in a spirited cocktail making race.

After William was declared winner, the couple heard more about the Trademarket enterprise which transformed a previously vacant site, aiming to showcase new businesses while also increasing footfall in a less visited area.

They also met with representatives from Kainos, a Belfast-based software company provided the site for the market at a peppercorn rent.

The final visit of the day was to the town of Carrickfergus in Co Antrim.

The royal couple were greeted by cheering crowds who had lined the streets as they arrived to visit youth charity Carrick Connect which offers support services to local young people experiencing social or emotional difficulties.

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