Saturday 21 July 2018

Hurling and history on the agenda as royal newlyweds to visit capital

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Photo: Reuters
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Photo: Reuters
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Hurling and history are top of the agenda for the visit of newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle next month.

The British royal couple's itinerary is still being finalised but there will be opportunities for 'meet and greets' with members of the public.

The Irish Independent exclusively revealed last March that the couple were planning a 'mini-moon' in Dublin.

They are coming here at the request of Queen Elizabeth who is keen to maintain good Anglo-Irish relations against the backdrop of political fights over Brexit.

It is understood their two-day visit on July 10/11 will include a number of elements that are very similar to the tour undertaken by Queen Elizabeth in 2011.

The focus will be on culture, sport, education and history.

Sources say that plans are well advanced for a visit to Croke Park - where it's likely that the prince will try his hand at hurling.

As part of the tour, they will be walked through the significance of GAA in Irish life, and told about the events of Bloody Sunday in 1920 when 14 people were killed by British security forces.

The queen's presence in the stadium was viewed as an iconic moment during her visit.

She was particularly interested in the shape of the hurley, asking at one point: "Is it like what they use in shinty?"

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will also visit Trinity College to learn about Anglo-Irish relations through the centuries.

And while it has yet to be confirmed, there is also a possibility that they will travel to the St James's Gate for a pint of Guinness.

Prince Harry's grandmother got a tour of the Guinness brewery but stopped short of actually tasting the black stuff.

Ms Markle has previously been trained in pulling the perfect pint, having visited Ireland's top tourist attraction in 2013.

Although it is not an official visit, they will pay a "courtesy call" to Áras an Uachtaráin where they will be welcomed by President Michael D Higgins.

The itinerary is being put together by British Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett, who is expected to host a garden party in their honour at his residence in Glencairn House.

Kensington Palace said the couple "are looking forward to learning more about Ireland's history and experiencing its rich culture, as well as meeting the people who are shaping the country's future".

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney described the planned visit as "great news".

"The Duchess of Sussex has been to Dublin before, so it's a chance for her to show her new husband around.

"Britain is our nearest neighbour and closest friend and Ireland will be very welcoming of Harry and Meghan, as we were to Queen Elizabeth on her state visit, as well as Prince Charles and Camilla just last week," he told the Irish Independent.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, described the visit as a "wonderful opportunity to showcase Dublin".

Irish Independent

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