Belfast Telegraph

Queen's Great War tribute as sun sets on Royal visit

By Chris Kilpatrick

The Queen laid a wreath to commemorate Irish service personnel killed in the First World War during an event to mark the centenary of the conflict.

Thousands turned out to welcome Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh to Coleraine where they were guests of honour at a civic reception to remember those killed.

The Royal couple flew to Coleraine from the Queen's official residence at Hillsborough Castle.

Members of the Royal British Legion from both sides of the Irish border were invited to the event in the town hall.

The war ended in 1918, three years before the partition of Ireland.

The Last Post was played after the laying of a poppy wreath by Her Majesty at the town's cenotaph.

The mayor of Coleraine, who accompanied the Royal couple during the visit, said it was one of the proudest days of his life.

"Personally it was a great honour," DUP councillor George Duddy told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

"It was so positive for the borough.

"Both Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh, from the moment you meet them, there is almost a sense of calm.

"You do get a bit nervous beforehand but you are immediately set at ease."

A large crowd greeted the Royal convoy when it arrived in the Diamond area of the Co Londonderry town around 11.30am.

Many gathered hours before the much-anticipated arrival, undeterred by the wet weather.

Re-enactors dressed in period costume added to the nostalgic feel and, after the solemnity of the wreath laying and minute's silence, the Queen embarked on a brief walkabout to meet some of those who had turned up to see her.

Others enjoyed the best vantage points available from the windows of office blocks and shops.

The Royal Standard was erected above the town hall for the event and scores of Union flags were waved by many of those keen to catch a glimpse of the visitors.

The Queen was presented with a brooch while her husband was given whiskeys from Coleraine and Bushmills.

"To see Her Majesty and the Duke lay a wreath at our war memorial was very emotional," said Mr Duddy. "Whenever they played the national anthem and there was a crescendo of singing I had a lump in my throat.

"This was our Queen, in our town remembering our dead.

"It was a fantastic day."

The reception marked the end of a packed three days for the Queen and Duke, with trips to the set of Game of Thrones, Crumlin Road Gaol and a packed St George's Market among the highlights.

Buckingham Palace officials have hailed what was the Queen's 21st visit to Northern Ireland as an overwhelming success.

While past trips have seen her itinerary closely guarded due to security fears, this week's engagements were publicised in advance and that open nature continued as the events unfolded.

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