Thursday 19 October 2017

Prince Charles joins bereaved relatives of police officers at Belfast memorial

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina greet Prince Charles and Camilla
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina greet Prince Charles and Camilla

David Young, Deborah McAleese and Michael McHugh

BRITAIN'S Prince Charles paid tribute to fallen police officers as he joined bereaved relatives at the opening of a memorial in Belfast.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall bowed their heads for a minute's silence before laying wreaths at the striking stone roll of honour for the 13 Police Service of Northern Ireland officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty since the organisation was founded in 2001.

A piper played a lament after family members watched the royal couple unveil a plaque to commemorate their visit to the memorial garden, which is tucked in a secluded area of PSNI headquarters.

In a particularly poignant moment, seven-year-old Victoria Grieves, whose officer father Gary was killed in a road crash in 2010, presented a bouquet of flowers to the Duchess.

Pic Credit: Steve Humphries
Pic Credit: Steve Humphries

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "This is a very special, but also sad day, for the families and PSNI as we remember those who have died."

There is already an adjoining memorial garden to the 300 officers from the PSNI's predecessor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who were killed during the Troubles.

The solemn event, during which the couple also viewed a new book of remembrance, started the couple's second day of their four-day trip to Ireland.

Read More: Royal visit to 'show strength' of Irish relationship with UK

From there it was on to the Co Down market town of Dromore, where there was a carnival atmosphere as the Prince and Duchess took a stroll through the square.

They chatted with local traders and even stopped for a quick ice cream.

Prince Charles and Minister Heather Humphreys in Glasnevin Cemetery. Pic Credit: Steve Humphries
Prince Charles and Minister Heather Humphreys in Glasnevin Cemetery. Pic Credit: Steve Humphries
Prince Charles shakes hands with Sein Fein leader Gerry Adams
Prince Charles in Glasnevin Cemetery
Prince Charles in Glasnevin Cemetery
Prince Charles during a visit in Glasnevin Cemetery. Pic Credit: Steve Humphries
Prince Charles and Minister Heather Humphreys in Glasnevin Cemetery
Prince Charles in Glasnevin Cemetery. Pic Credit: Steve Humphries
Prince Charles in Glasnevin Cemetery. Pic Credit: Steve Humphries
Prince Charles, HRH the Prince of Wales, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic Credit: Steve Humphries
Prince Charles, HRH the Prince of Wales, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

The town was brought to a standstill as hundreds of well-wishers flooded on to the streets.

The Prince and Duchess spent time chatting and laughing with school children and members of the community before heading off to the primary school.

They royals will travel across the border to the Irish Republic on Wednesday afternoon.

The Prince has officially visited the Republic of Ireland four times before, most recently in May 2016.

In 2015, he and the Duchess travelled to Mullaghmore in Co Sligo where the Prince's great-uncle and mentor Lord Mountbatten and three others were killed by the IRA in 1979.

Highlights of the couple's latest visit to Ireland will include an engagement at Kilkenny Castle, where they will hear some traditional music and watch a hurling demonstration by the GAA.

Read More: Prince Charles shows off Irish dancing skills during visit to Northern Ireland

Charles will tour the United Nations Training School Ireland at the Curragh Camp, while Camilla will visit the Irish National Stud.

Both will attend ceremonies at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin to commemorate those who lost their lives in the First World War and during the Easter Rising.

President Michael D. Higgins will meet the Royal couple in Dublin later on Wednesday.

While in the city, the Prince will also meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny and he and the Duchess will conclude their visit on Friday by attending a reception at the British ambassador's residence.

The Duchess visited the new 700-pupil Dromore Primary School in Co Down, which opened its doors to pupils in September last year.

She was met by principal Linda Allen and greeted by pupils, some carrying out engineering-type activities, others programming robots using tablets.

She was presented with a painting created by one of the teachers as a keepsake and said she had never seen such well-behaved children.

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