Home / Royal Mail / Prince Charles and Camilla appear in high spirits for one day visit to Northern Ireland 

Prince Charles and Camilla appear in high spirits for one day visit to Northern Ireland 

Prince Charles has been seen wearing in a face mask for the first time in public as he joined Camilla on a  whirlwind one day trip to Northern Ireland.

The Prince of Wales, 71, and the Duchess of Cornwall, 73, arrived in the country this morning for a series of engagements in order to thank individuals who have gone the extra mile during the pandemic. 

Prince Charles stepped out in a face covering for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, opting for a £6.50 mask crafted by seamstresses from his Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme.

The royal couple appeared in high spirits as they visited local communities and organisations during the busy one day visit.     

In keeping with royal visits to Northern Ireland, details were not released in advance and the itinerary was not disclosed for security reasons. 

Prince Charles, 71, was seen in a face mask for the first time as he joined Camilla, 73, on a whirlwind one day trip to Northern Ireland

The couple appeared in high spirits as they posed for snaps in front of a throne made for a party to celebrate the end of filming of the TV series 'Game of Thrones', during their visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast

The couple appeared in high spirits as they posed for snaps in front of a throne made for a party to celebrate the end of filming of the TV series ‘Game of Thrones’, during their visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast

The Prince of Wales laughed with foodservice driver Stephen Taggart during a visit to the Henderson Group's food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey

The Prince of Wales laughed with foodservice driver Stephen Taggart during a visit to the Henderson Group’s food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey

Prince Charles opted for a smart navy suit and white shirt for the visit, and added a pale blue tie.

Meanwhile the royal also donned a turquoise face covering with a bold gold pattern during several engagements.  

The facemasks worn by Prince Charles and Camilla during their visit were made by seamstresses who have been supported through the Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme, which was set up by The Prince of Wales in 2006 to protect heritage at risk and to provide training and jobs around the world.  

The masks are crafted by artisans in Myanmar using handwoven heritage textiles to turn leftover stock fabrics f into unique and colourful face coverings.  

Prince Charles opted for a turquoise face covering as he stepped out in a mask for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 crisis

Prince Charles opted for a turquoise face covering as he stepped out in a mask for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 crisis

Prince Charles played with his mask as he stepped out of a vehicle upon arrival in Belfast for his whirlwind day of engagements today

Prince Charles played with his mask as he stepped out of a vehicle upon arrival in Belfast for his whirlwind day of engagements today

Prince Charles played with his mask as he stepped out of a vehicle upon arrival in Belfast for his whirlwind day of engagements today 

For every mask sold, the organisation is donating one to vulnerable communities in Yangon. 

The royal couple arrived at the Ulster Museum in south Belfast on this morning at the start of a series of engagements in Northern Ireland. 

Kickstarting a busy day of engagements, the couple met a number of young nurses who recently completed their training early to help with the coronavirus pandemic during a visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

They thanked a number of young nurses who completed their training early to assist in the battle against coronavirus. 

They spent time speaking with nurses outside the building, who transitioned early from Queen’s University Belfast and the Open University into clinical roles amid the health crisis. 

Camilla shielded herself from the rain as she stepped out in Belfast today while wearing a deep green face covering

Camilla shielded herself from the rain as she stepped out in Belfast today while wearing a deep green face covering 

The facemask worn by Camilla was  made by seamstresses who have been supported through Prince Charles' Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme

The royal could be seen adjusting a green face covering as she stepped out of the car upon her arrival at the event

The facemask worn by Camilla was  made by seamstresses who have been supported through Prince Charles’ Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme

The Duchess could be seen adjusting her face covering during the visit as she stepped into a vehicle

The Duchess could be seen adjusting her face covering during the visit as she stepped into a vehicle 

Camilla, who has been seen in public wearing face coverings on several occasions, opted for a green garment from Prince Charles' charity on today's visit

Camilla, who has been seen in public wearing face coverings on several occasions, opted for a green garment from Prince Charles' charity on today's visit

Camilla, who has been seen in public wearing face coverings on several occasions, opted for a green garment from Prince Charles’ charity on today’s visit 

Fiona Pierce, who will qualify as a midwife at the Royal Victoria Hospital, said it had felt nice to be thanked for their contribution. 

‘It’s been a different end to the course than what we envisioned but we all met it with great enthusiasm and so excited to be recognised as being able to support the workforce,’ she said.

Bronach Best, who works in mental health, said everyone had pulled together as a community of staff in the effort.

‘I think the public have been great, there was one occasion when I was going shopping in my uniform, and met a mum with her son who was wearing a Spiderman costume, and she said, ‘look there is a real life hero there’,’ she said.

‘It’s nice to be appreciated.’

Prince Charles went on to meet with First Minister Arlene Foster and Lord Dodds at Hillsborough Castle during his visit to Belfast

Prince Charles went on to meet with First Minister Arlene Foster and Lord Dodds at Hillsborough Castle during his visit to Belfast

The royal beamed as he posed for pictures with the First Minister inside Hillsborough Castle during his visit to Belfast

The royal beamed as he posed for pictures with the First Minister inside Hillsborough Castle during his visit to Belfast

The royal beamed as he posed for pictures with the First Minister inside Hillsborough Castle during his visit to Belfast

Meanwhile the Prince of Wales also met with Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Junior Minister Declan Kearney at the castle this afternoon

Meanwhile the Prince of Wales also met with Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Junior Minister Declan Kearney at the castle this afternoon 

Prince Charles posed for snaps with Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Junior Minister Declan Kearney in front of a desk laden with family photographs, including pictures of the royal with Prince Louis

Prince Charles posed for snaps with Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Junior Minister Declan Kearney in front of a desk laden with family photographs, including pictures of the royal with Prince Louis

Prince Charles posed for snaps with Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Junior Minister Declan Kearney in front of a desk laden with family photographs, including pictures of the royal with Prince Louis 

Family photographs on display on Prince Charles' desk included an image of the royal alongside Prince William, Kate Middleton and their three children as well as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (left), a snap of the Queen Mother (second left), one photo of the Queen and Prince Philip (centre), a set of portraits of Prince Harry and William (right) and an image of Prince Charles snuggling up with Prince Louis (far right)

Family photographs on display on Prince Charles’ desk included an image of the royal alongside Prince William, Kate Middleton and their three children as well as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (left), a snap of the Queen Mother (second left), one photo of the Queen and Prince Philip (centre), a set of portraits of Prince Harry and William (right) and an image of Prince Charles snuggling up with Prince Louis (far right) 

Inside the museum, Charles and Camilla were shown an exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, which also celebrates the contribution of nurses since the First World War up to the present day.

Moving through the attraction, the royal couple were also shown one from a series of six Rembrandt etchings, the first by the artist to be publicly displayed in Northern Ireland after the museum benefited from an agreement negotiated by the tax authorities to secure £150,000 owed to the Exchequer.

Charles took an interest in a handwoven replica of the famous Iron Throne from the HBO show Game Of Thrones which had been commissioned for the end of the fantasy drama of battles for power which was principally filmed in the region.

‘A frame of thrones,’ the prince quipped as he stood beside the piece for photographs.

Camilla and Charles kickstarted their busy day of engagements by meeting with nurses who transitioned early from their training to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic

Camilla and Charles kickstarted their busy day of engagements by meeting with nurses who transitioned early from their training to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic

Prince Charles spent time speaking with nurses outside the building, who transitioned early from Queen's University Belfast and the Open University into clinical roles amid the health crisis

Prince Charles spent time speaking with nurses outside the building, who transitioned early from Queen’s University Belfast and the Open University into clinical roles amid the health crisis

The royals thanked a number of young nurses in Belfast who completed their training early to assist in the battle against coronavirus

Camilla thanked nurses and midwives d

The royals thanked a number of young nurses in Belfast who completed their training early to assist in the battle against coronavirus 

The royal couple heard from museum staff and volunteers about their work in getting the attraction up and running after it was closed for four and a half months during lockdown.

It reopened on July 30, managing visitor numbers through an online booking system, and have reported numbers remaining at just 25% of the usual footfall.

Before departing, the prince and the duchess met Belfast Lord Mayor Frank McCoubrey and city council employees who maintain the gardens outside the Tropical Ravine building.  

The pair went on to split for further engagements, with Prince Charles travelling to a food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey. 

The royal couple also met museum employees, as the tourism and culture sectors reopen and look towards recovery in the coming months

The royal couple also met museum employees, as the tourism and culture sectors reopen and look towards recovery in the coming months

Prince Charles had the group of staff at the Ulster Museum laughing as they walked through the grounds outside

Prince Charles had the group of staff at the Ulster Museum laughing as they walked through the grounds outside 

He could be seen laughing and joking with staff while he thanked them for their efforts during the health crisis and heard of the unprecedented demand they faced in recent months. 

Prince Charles helped negotiate a long service award for a warehouse operator while meeting staff at Henderson Foodservice where he was introduced to Dermot Ferguson, 64, a warehouse operator who formed part of a team delivering food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable during lockdown. 

Charles congratulated Mr Ferguson for his work in the community and then asked: ‘So how many years have you done this?’ 

When Mr Ferguson told him he had worked for the company for 40 years, the Prince said: ‘Forty years?’ and gesturing towards the company’s joint managing director Martin Agnew, asked: ‘Has he given you anything?’   

After meeting nurses and midwives outside, the royal couple took shelter from the rain as they were later given a tour of the Ulster Museum

After meeting nurses and midwives outside, the royal couple took shelter from the rain as they were later given a tour of the Ulster Museum 

Prince Charles enjoyed a cup of tea during his visit to the mueseum today as he heard from staff how the organisation planned to recover from the Covid crisis

Prince Charles enjoyed a cup of tea during his visit to the mueseum today as he heard from staff how the organisation planned to recover from the Covid crisis 

The warehouseman replied: ‘Not yet but he will now,’ before insisting the company was a fine employer. 

The Prince went to the firm, which supplies more than 450 stores including 96 supermarkets and convenience stores it owns itself under the Spar, EuroSpar, and Vivo names to recognise its achievements in keeping Northern Ireland consumers supplied with groceries during the pandemic. 

It has diversified to introduce home delivery services from 250 stores during the crisis. Stores have also supported their own communities by delivering hampers to nurses and others isolating away from their families.

In the company’s giant 200,000 sq ft ambient warehouse surrounded by 18,500 pallets and dozens of staff lined up in socially distanced rows, Charles was presented with a hamper of Northern Irish produce. 

The Prince told them: ‘I’ve been hearing a lot about all the work you’ve put into helping to maintain everything despite the difficulties and the challenges I know you’ve all been facing with this particular pandemic.  

Once inside the museum, Prince Charles took an interest in a handwoven replica of the famous Iron Throne from the HBO show Game Of Thrones which had been commissioned for the end of the fantasy drama of battles for power which was principally filmed in the region

Once inside the museum, Prince Charles took an interest in a handwoven replica of the famous Iron Throne from the HBO show Game Of Thrones which had been commissioned for the end of the fantasy drama of battles for power which was principally filmed in the region

The royal quipped that the huge sculpture was 'A frame of thrones while posing for photographs alongside Camilla at the museum

The royal quipped that the huge sculpture was 'a frame of thrones' while posing for photographs alongside Camilla at the museum

The royal quipped that the huge sculpture was ‘a frame of thrones’ while posing for photographs alongside Camilla at the museum 

‘I can only congratulate all of you, for what it’s worth, for the amount of effort you’ve put into this and clearly the extraordinary amount of difference you’ve managed to make to so many people’s lives, particularly in delivering food parcels and all the trouble that’s taken in ensuring that everybody knows which customer is which and what needs are required. 

‘And despite, I suspect, at the beginning of all of this having to deal with a huge number of people trying to hoard everything, I hope that had calmed down now and you’re all managing all right.’ 

He added: ‘But if I may just say, thank you for all the extra effort you’ve put in and I hope I haven’t caused mammoth disruption to the normal smooth working of this incredible operation. 

‘But well done all of you. Thank you.’ 

The company, which has been operating for 123 years, employs more than 4,000 people in Northern Ireland.  

Staff at Henderson Group's food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey, near Belfast, carefully social distanced from one another as they awaited the arrival of the Prince of Wales

Staff at Henderson Group’s food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey, near Belfast, carefully social distanced from one another as they awaited the arrival of the Prince of Wales

Prince Charles was given a tour of the centre before meeting with staff, whom he thanked for their efforts during the health crisis

Prince Charles was given a tour of the centre before meeting with staff, whom he thanked for their efforts during the health crisis 

The royal appeared in high spirits during the visit, where he could be seen laughing and joking with staff

Prince Charles carefully maintained social distancing from staff at the distribution centre as he heard about their work over the last few months

Prince Charles carefully maintained social distancing from staff at the distribution centre as he heard about their work over the last few months

The royal appeared in high spirits during the visit to the food and grocery distribution centre, where he could be seen laughing and joking with staff

The royal appeared in high spirits during the visit to the food and grocery distribution centre, where he could be seen laughing and joking with staff

The royal appeared in high spirits during the visit, and could be seen beaming and laughing during his tour

The royal appeared in high spirits during the visit, and could be seen beaming and laughing during his tour

The royal appeared in high spirits during the visit, and could be seen beaming and laughing while meeting staff during his tour 

Prince Charles appeared in high spirits today as he joined the Duchess to kickstart a whirlwind one day trip of Northern Ireland

Prince Charles appeared in high spirits today as he joined the Duchess to kickstart a whirlwind one day trip of Northern Ireland

Meanwhile the Duchess visited Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid, where she met with staff, supporters and service users to hear of the challenges they have faced in recent months. 

The royal sat in silent astonishment today as she listened to the story of a woman whose four children had been murdered by her abusive former husband. 

Camilla looked ashen-faced as she listened to the anonymous woman, who was trafficked to Northern Ireland via Germany from her home country of Somalia, tearfully recall how four of her six children – all boys – were stabbed to death by her former partner, who also tried to kill her. 

The man has never been brought to justice and after her other two children, a twin boy and girl, were taken away from her by their paternal grandfather, the woman – who was married at just 16 for the first time – left Somalia and has never seen them again. 

She wept as she thanked Camilla for coming to hear her story, telling her: ‘Thank you, thank you for coming to listen. I am very very happy to see you today.’ 

He could be seen raising his hand in the air as he addressed the crowd of staff who have worked at the distribution centre

Later, the royal addressed staff at the factory to thank them for their efforts during the Covid-19 crisis

Later, the royal addressed staff at the factory to thank them for their efforts during the Covid-19 crisis 

Camilla smiled and said: ‘No thank you for telling us’ and made a point of going up to her afterwards and telling her: ‘You are so very, very brave.’ 

The duchess, who has made the issue of domestic abuse a cornerstone of her public work, made the solo visit to the Women’s Aid centre during an official trip to Northern Ireland with her husband.

She admitted that despite her extensive work in the arena she was shocked at some of the statistics she had heard. 

Some 32,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported across Northern Ireland last year, the highest number of incidents since records began 15 years ago.  

The Duchess, a long-standing supporter of domestic abuse charities in the UK and overseas, met staff, supporters and service users at Women's Aid

The Duchess, a long-standing supporter of domestic abuse charities in the UK and overseas, met staff, supporters and service users at Women’s Aid 

During the whirlwind engagements, the Duchess visited Belfast & Lisburn Women's Aid to hear of the challenges they have faced in recent months

During the whirlwind engagements, the Duchess visited Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid to hear of the challenges they have faced in recent months

 It is now on par with Romania as having the highest incidence of domestic abuse in Europe per head of population.

Women’s Aid runs three refuges in Belfast and Lisburn – helping around 900 women a year – and offers a range of other support services, including a new web chat service developed during lockdown for women who were were shut in with their abusers and too scared to use the phone.

The CEO of the Belfast group, Kelly Andrews, explained to the duchess that Northern Ireland was some way behind the UK in terms of legislation protecting women over stalking and issues such as coercive control but were catching up. 

She said that much of the region’s problems were due to the familial nature of society and the fact that men had traditionally very much been the head of the household. 

‘Married women felt they had made their bed and had to lie in it,’ she said. 

Meanwhile the Duchess wrapped up warm in a forest green coat as she joined Prince Charles for a series of engagements in Belfast today

Meanwhile the Duchess wrapped up warm in a forest green coat as she joined Prince Charles for a series of engagements in Belfast today

Meanwhile the Duchess wrapped up warm in a forest green coat as she joined Prince Charles for a series of engagements in Belfast today 

On a positive note, the Duchess was told that more women were also reporting incidents. 

Discussing the issue to how incidents of domestic violence had seen a marked increase since lockdown, the Duchess remarked: ‘Victims are more exposed and it seems the problem is escalating which is endlessly worrying,’ she said. ‘There is no way out of the situation, or so they think, they feel trapped. They don’t trust anybody.’ 

Camilla visibly started when Siobhan Graham, manager of one of the refuges, told her about an 87-year-old woman who finally had the courage to report her 89-year-old abusive husband after years of violence to the police during lockdown. 

‘Unfortunately she went back to him, they often do,’ she said. ‘It’s not until you start digging that you realise how bad the situation is,’ Camilla said.

Inside the building the duchess sat down for tea with a group of women – and one young man- who had been helped by Women’s Aid.

Camilla carefully pinned a shamrock brooch to her lapel as she stepped out in Ireland earlier today

Camilla carefully pinned a shamrock brooch to her lapel as she stepped out in Ireland earlier today 

The royal, who is a long-standing supporter of domestic abuse charities in the UK and overseas, visited a not-for-profit organisation that supports those affected by domestic violence across Belfast and Lisburn

The royal, who is a long-standing supporter of domestic abuse charities in the UK and overseas, visited a not-for-profit organisation that supports those affected by domestic violence across Belfast and Lisburn

She listened keenly as one middle-aged woman told her: ‘I was with my husband for 37 years and he became and alcoholic and my abuse got worse. I never had the strength to leave but then I rang Women’s Aid and they gave me the strength. I am now on my own, I have my own home, I have my self-confidence and a path I never had before.’ 

‘What gave you the courage to leave?’ Camilla asked. 

‘One day something just clicked. I told him ‘I’m leaving, I told him i would not be back and I have never looked back,’ the woman replied.

‘It shows what can be done,’ Camilla smiled.

 Another young woman stood to tell her that she had been trafficked to Northern Ireland by her former boyfriend. ‘I come here,’ she said, gesturing around the room, ‘ to be safe from him and his organisation and this is a place that can help me go on with my life. One day I will start a normal life. There are things I can never forget but I hope I can go on to have the life I deserve.’ 

The Duchess smiled as she met with staff, supporters and service users of Women's Aid in Belfast

The Duchess smiled as she met with staff, supporters and service users of Women’s Aid in Belfast

During the visit, Camilla heard about the challenges they faced by the those using the service in recent months

During the visit, Camilla heard about the challenges they faced by the those using the service in recent months

‘Thank you for telling us,’ Camilla said. 

Shown a garden the women had created as a place of tranquility and refuge during lockdown, Camilla smiled and said: ‘There’s nothing better than a garden, especially during Covid.’

‘It shows you there is a life and you can blossom,’ she was told. 

‘That’s obviously happening here,’ the royal replied. As she left Camilla told the charity’s team: ‘They couldn’t survive without you. 

‘I promise I will return. I would like to see the refuges in action when this [covid] has all settled down. ‘ 

Asked whether she had seen any difference between Northern Ireland and other parts of the world she had visited, Camilla shook her head and said: ‘Sadly this is a problem worldwide. Wherever you go it is just the same. Luckily there are organisations like Women’s Aid today who are their lifelines.’ 

The royal beamed as she spoke with members of staff and service users joining her visit to Northern Ireland today

The royal beamed as she spoke with members of staff and service users joining her visit to Northern Ireland today 

Asked whether her fears which she expresssed earlier this year, that lockdown would see an explosion in domestic violence as victims were virtually imprisoned with their abusers, she said: ‘I am afraid so. I would like to say it hasn’t but I am afraid to say that it has. We have all got to do our bit to try and break the corrosive silence around the issue. I certainly am trying to do everything I can. 

‘Like today, when we are allowed out, I would like to do more. 

‘The bravery of the women today was remarkable. I was incredibly moved.’  

The couple’s visit comes weeks after Prince William visited the country to mark Emergency Services Day. 

During his trip, the Duke of Cambridge, 38, spoke about how he struggled to talk about his emotions in a job that saw him encounter tragedy on a regular basis.  


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