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Queen and Duke fly in for Antrim coast visit

By Nevin Farrell

Published 27/06/2016

Her Majesty the Queen meets Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen meets Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen meets NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today (Monday) at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen meets NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today (Monday) at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen meets NI First Minister Arlene Foster today (Monday) at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen meets NI First Minister Arlene Foster today (Monday) at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen meets NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today (Monday) at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Hillsborough Castle today. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Hillsborough Castle today (Monday). Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 27: Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness arrives at Hillsborough Castle to meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (not seen) on June 27, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 27: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are greeted by Michael Day (CEO of Historic Royal Palaces) upon their arrival to Hillsborough Castle on June 27, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 27: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive for a visit to Hillsborough Castle on June 27, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)

The north coast is the place to be for royal watchers on a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will visit the Giant's Causeway on Tuesday and stop at Bushmills for the unveiling of a statue to Robert Quigg, who won a Victoria Cross in the First World War.

They will have lunch at Royal Portrush Golf Club and travel by steam train to officially open Bellarena Railway Station.

The royal party flies in today and will travel to Hillsborough Castle to meet Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

In 2012, the Queen and former IRA commander Mr McGuinness marked a milestone in Anglo-Irish relations by shaking hands at Belfast's Lyric Theatre.

The Sinn Fein MLA and the Queen also shook hands in 2014. Mr McGuinness has toasted the Queen at a banquet in Windsor Castle, and praised her commitment to the peace process.

The trip is the third high profile royal visit to Northern Ireland in a matter of weeks, and follows appearances by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

On Tuesday, the royals will tour the Causeway Visitor Centre, meeting the admissions team, guides and volunteers.

They will watch a short video before driving to the Causeway itself, where National Trust rangers will point out key features.

At Bushmills village the royals will attend an act of remembrance and the Queen will unveil a statue of Robert Quigg, VC while Prince Philip will unveil a commemorative stone.

They will hear a short address by Leonard Quigg, great nephew of Robert Quigg. The Queen will also meet descendants of men Robert Quigg rescued at the Somme in 1916.

The Robert Quigg VC Commemoration Society was established by Robert Thompson in October 2014 to raise funds by public subscription to erect a bronze sculpture of Mr Quigg.

It is being unveiled days before the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916.

Also on Tuesday, the Royals will visit Portrush Golf Club for a reception and lunch as guests of the Mayor of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, the SDLP's Maura Hickey.

The will travel by steam train from Coleraine railway station to Bellarena railway station, where the Queen will unveil a plaque to mark the new station platforms.

The VIP train has been provided by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland and National Museums Northern Ireland and operated by Northern Ireland Railways.

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