Belfast Telegraph

Camilla blooms in Hillsborough while Prince Charles takes the gloves off at Army boxing gym

CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

IT was a blooming marvellous day as Hillsborough in Bloom's 2014 campaign got the royal seal of approval.

And Prince Charles had ringside seats as he toured an Army boxing gym near Belfast.

On the second day of the royal couple's visit to Northern Ireland, the Duchess of Cornwall attended a reception hosted by Lisburn City Council to launch the village's campaign – Hillsborough 2014: Going For Gold.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall began their two-day trip of the province yesterday with tours in Enniskillen.

On this, the 50th anniversary year of the Britain in Bloom competition, Hillsborough is again a finalist in the large village category.

The Duchess was greeted by the sheriff for Co Down Simon Brien, Lisburn mayor Margaret Tolerton and director of corporate services at Lisburn City Council Adrian Donaldson.

During her visit, the Duchess viewed a number of displays for the forthcoming Hillsborough in Bloom event including the Hillsborough Bugler – a striking display of red and white carnations.

Camilla launched the 2014 campaign by presenting a tray of plants to Flora McGirr of the Hillsborough Village Committee, before she presented the mayor with a plant from the Prince of Wales's private residence.

She was introduced to groups of invited guests from the Hillsborough community and also met the talented green-fingered gardening staff of Lisburn City Council who prepare and plant the many floral displays that Hillsborough village is famous for.

Before she left, the mayor's three-year-old granddaughter, Emma Smith, presented the Duchess with a small posy.

Meanwhile, the gloves were off as the Prince of Wales toured an Army boxing gym near Belfast.

Prince Charles is colonel-in-chief of the Mercian Regiment.

The Northern Ireland-based 2 Mercian Battalion has undertaken five tours of duty in Afghanistan and is one of the most decorated in the British Army, having served in all four corners of Helmand.

Charles never flinched as members of the regiment pummelled pads or skipped a short distance away.

Soldiers at Palace Barracks, Holywood, are preparing for a tournament with their Scottish rivals and the workrate was intense. The Prince joked to one youthful competitor: "You have not been knocked out yet?" as he shook hands before posing for photos inside the ring.

Charles also met with soldiers in the cookhouse canteen.

Elsewhere, the Duchess joined children for an Easter egg hunt as she met with families in the garrison church.

Commanding officer of 2 Mercian Lieutenant Colonel Shove Gilby said he was delighted to host the royal couple. "It is very special. We have got a unique bond with the Prince and we treasure it, and every time he comes to see us it is a really great day for all the boys, all the families and the children to foster that special relationship that we have with the royal family," he said.

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