African royalty find jewel in the crown
A BLOUSE worn by the late Princess Diana on her engagement and a copy of her wedding dress caught the eye of an African king and queen yesterday.
On the first day of their visit here, King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho browsed through the fashion and saw the silversmiths at work in the Newbridge Silverware Factory and Museum as part of a three-day sojourn after attending the British Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London.
Diana founded a charity for disadvantaged children in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho which is completely landlocked by South Africa.
"They were particularly taken with the Princess Diana collection of garments as they know the royal family," Phil Donnelly, the spokeswoman for Newbridge Silverware, said.
"King Letsie loved the music side of the museum. We have the four Beatle suits that they wore in 'A Hard Day's Night' and the film. He knew them straight away and couldn't believe we had them."
The royal couple, who are staying at Farmleigh House, were gifted a silver-plated Celtic canteen and some jewellery.
They will also meet President Michael D Higgins today for lunch in Aras an Uachtarain as part of their official visit.
In addition, they'll take in some of the country's agri-business successes including Country Crest in Lusk, Co Dublin. They will also visit the Guinness Storehouse tomorrow before their departure.
Ireland's longest running bilateral aid programme was established in Lesotho in 1975. The Irish Aid budget for the country is €8.9m this year.
Lesotho has the third-highest HIV prevalence rate in the world -- with one in five of those aged from 15 to 49-years infected. More than half of the country's two millions residents live below the poverty line of €0.41 a day.
Trade Minister Joe Costello, said he will be discussing the development partnership and also efforts to build greater trade links between the countries when they meet this afternoon.