'It's easy to see why Ireland has such a special place in the hearts of my family' - Britain's Prince Harry addresses crowd at garden party
A young boy stole the show during Meghan Markle and Britain's Prince Harry's grand entrance at Glencairn this evening.
The grandson of the wife of the British Ambassador shook Markle's hand as they made their way into the grounds.
The couple had stopped off for a quick costume change after visiting the Taoiseach in government buildings earlier in the day.
Markle wore an Emilia Wickstead cocktail dress for the garden party and stood on stage beside Harry while he addressed the 300 strong guest list.
“Tánaiste, Ambassador, a Dhaoine Uaisle,” the Duke of Sussex said addressing the crowd gathered at Glencairn before adding hastily. “I hope I said that right.”
In his speech he thanked Tanaiste Simon Coveney for attending the event and for accompanying his father Prince Charles around Cork last month.
“I’m glad to hear he didn’t bore you to tears,” he said.
“My father was telling us last week how much he had enjoyed his recent visit; but said that each of his visits, over the years, holds a special place in his memory.
“My grandmother, The Queen, also spoke of her own visit in 2011 and the fantastic welcome that she too received.
“Standing here with you on this beautiful evening, it is easy to see why Ireland has such a special place in the hearts of my family and indeed, all those who come here.
“We’re so pleased to be here, for our first official international visit together as a married couple, and we hope it will be the first of many.
“This is a very special relationship between two proud, sovereign countries. We share common values; culture, business links, family ties, and possibly a similar sense of humour.
“Our relationship is of course informed by our history, but it is also one which is now dynamic and forward looking,” he added.
"I have the greatest confidence that the friendship, collaboration and mutual understanding that our two countries have built up over the years will endure and it will grow.
"I will finish by drawing on the words of President Higgins during his extraordinarily successful visit to the UK in 2014, which we still remember with admiration. He quoted the traditional Irish saying: ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’ - “we live in each other’s shadows” - we shield each other, and rely on each other for shelter.
"That sentiment is as apt now as it was then, as we draw strength from one another as neighbours, partners, and above all friends."
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Simon Coveney also addressed the crowd and joked that he had been told to avoid the topic of Brexit.
He also said that the majority of Irish people would be cheering England on in their match against Croatia tomorrow.
"I hope you make it home in time for the big game," Coveney told The Duke of Sussex.
Vicky Phelan, the Limerick mother who exposed the CervicalCheck controversy was left 'stunned' and 'gobsmacked' when Meghan Markle told her she had been following her journey.
"Meghan said she knew who I was and that she had been following my story. I thought 'Oh my god that is amazing'. That was a bonus.
"I knew people knew [my story] elsewhere but you don't think the Royals watch anything like this.... I was amazed I was gobsmacked. I just said 'thank you' - I couldn't believe she knew who I was to be honest. She just said you're doing great work. Keep doing it."
Guests were assembled in “pods” on the lawn of the ambassador’s residence and the royal couple circulated and spoke to groups of people.
Mrs Phelan said the couple also discussed mental health. "The pod I was in was all about health and well being," she said.
"They were quite relaxed."
Mrs Phelan said she had used the party as an opportunity to network to keep awareness about the scandal.
While most English football fans are happy to spend all of today dreaming of football 'coming home', the Duke of Sussex appears a little more reserved.
Former Ireland rugby player Brian O’Driscoll said he asked the Duke: “Is it coming home?” referring to whether England would win the semi-final against Croatia.
“He didn’t jumped at me immediately saying yes it was so I am thinking there is either humility or he is not sure whether he is coming home or not,” said O’Driscoll.
The guest list included people from the worlds of arts, sport, culture and charities. Artistic director of The Gate Selina Cartmell, director of the national gallery Seán Rainbird, enjoyed canapes on the sun drenched lawn alongside actress Caitriona Balfe, CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan.
Activist Sinead Burke, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, former President Mary Robinson were all in attendance.
As were designer Orla Kiely, Vikings actor Moe Dunford, Dunkirk actor Barry Keoghan, Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch, and Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee.
Young Offender actor Alex Murphy, and Breadwinner Director Nora Twomey, joined Ruby Walsh, referee Joy Neville, Minister Simon Harris and Kate O'Connell.
Floral displays for the reception were provided by Adrienne Flood & Ruth Monaghan from Apassionata Florals.
Guests enjoyed glasses of processo, and tucked into crab meat served in shot glasses and chicken skewers on the sun drenched lawn.