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Duchess of Cornwall has family links with mansion

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 23/05/2015

The royal couple take a stroll around Mount Stewart
The royal couple take a stroll around Mount Stewart

There was a real sense of connection for the Duchess of Cornwall at Mount Stewart.

For she and Lady Rose Lauritizen, whose family has lived at the stunning Co Down country mansion since the 18th century, are distant cousins.

The Royal couple were at Mount Stewart to mark the official reopening of an £8m restoration project by the National Trust.

They were welcomed by a party of 14, which included Ards and North Down Mayor, Alderman Alan Graham, Lady Rose's husband Peter Lauritizen and North Down MP Jim Shannon.

They jointly cut a celebration cake iced with a silver sword on loan from David Lindsay, Lord Lieutenant of Co Down at the end of their visit.

As they tried to cut an extra large slice, the Duchess joked: "It's ruined".

The Royal couple complemented each other in dress - she in a powder blue skirt suit and the Prince of Wales in a grey suit with striped light blue and dark blue tie - and in their genial, relaxed style on the final day of their trip to Northern Ireland.

This official duty was a relaxed one, where nothing more was asked of them other than to walk around the rejuvenated gardens and house, getting a peek into previously unopened rooms.

In the leafy, lush grounds and lavishly furnished rooms of Mount Stewart, Prince Charles was on familiar ground.

The only awkward moment of the visit was when one enthusiastic volunteer tried to snap a selfie with the Duchess, who deftly sidestepped out of view to avoid any fuss.

One colourful moment was when volunteer tour guide Jim Bates gave the Prince and Duchess an explanation of the type of people, such as Sir Winston Churchill, who had dined in the grand Mount Stewart dining room.

The retired Anglican minister from England, who now lives in Ballyholme, Bangor, was wearing his clerical collar with a brightly coloured jacket and red trousers.

Afterwards, when asked if the Prince mentioned his outfit, Mr Bates said: "No, he didn't, but he took a very close look at it."

On pride of place in the house was the newly restored George Stubbs painting Hambletonian, Rubbing Down, which now has a brand new frame.

The house and gardens were groomed to perfection ahead of the visit by teams of National Trust staff and conservation volunteers.

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