08/03/2011

William And Kate Heading For Home

Prince William's first royal visit to Northern Ireland has ended after a full programme of engagements as part of preparations for The Queen's grandson's wedding on 29 April.

Along with his bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, Prince William arrived in Northern Ireland this morning for a one-day visit and this afternoon the couple toured the Agricultural College at Greenmount, near Antrim.

They were getting a taste of rural life on a tour of the campus with Prince William judging a cattle competition, a tug o' war competition and even putting in fence posts.

Fiancée Kate was meanwhile making her way through the flower garden at the extensive estate at the same time.

Earlier, Prince William arrived at his grandmother's official NI residence when he visited Hillsborough Castle on what was the third engagement of the visit.

There, the couple had a private meeting with Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and His Royal Highness and Miss Middleton also had the opportunity to enjoy a private lunch at the Co Down castle.

It is both the base for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family when they visit Northern Ireland.
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The royal visitors then had some time to stroll in the ornate grounds and added their names to the historical Hillsborough Castle Visitors' book as they departed for their next engagement.

Earlier, they visited the headquarters of Youth Action NI in Belfast - an organisation that offers volunteering opportunities, performing arts, apprenticeships, mentoring, accredited training and leadership opportunities to young people living in disadvantaged areas.

There, they watched a performance by Youth Action's Rainbow Factory School of Performing Arts and met the young actors.

Their first appointment, at 10.30am, saw the couple at Belfast City Hall to be met by Lord Mayor Pat Convery and Dame Mary Peters, in her role as the Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, as their series of engagements got underway.

In the grounds of City Hall, the royal couple also met representatives from the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children who were hosting a Shrove Tuesday fund-raising event to benefit local children and their families.

Smiling Kate Middleton even tossed a pancake for Shrove Tuesday as onlookers cheered and wished her well for her wedding day next month.

Miss Middleton, 29, was handed a frying pan by Prince William after he had tossed some pancakes himself and told to "have a go" in front of children fundraising on Shrove Tuesday.

(BMcC/GK)

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