Belfast Telegraph

Schoolgirl given Royal treat by Kate Middleton

A young girl’s dreams came true yesterday when she met her princess.

Little Katie-Jean Cherry was filled with excitement when she heard of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton last |October, and had sent the Royal couple a congratulatory card |wishing them well.

Yesterday they finally got to thank the Lisburn schoolgirl in person during a surprise whistle-stop visit to Northern Ireland.

It was William and Kate’s first official engagement in the province, and comes less than two months before they tie the knot.

Their one-day visit included stop-offs in Belfast, Hillsborough and Greenmount College of |Agriculture near Antrim.

Throughout the day the Royal couple were greeted by hundreds of members of the public.

And outside Hillsborough Castle, Kate and her future husband were met by one very special fan.

Katie-Jean, who is just six and a half, had brought flowers as a present for Kate.

And the little girl was thrilled when the bride-to-be thanked her personally for her card.

Afterwards, a smiling Katie-Jean said: “I never thought I would meet a real princess.

“I think she is very pretty. She thanked me for the card.”

Her mum, Toni, said Katie-Jean was excited about the couple’s upcoming wedding, adding: “She loves Kate and William.

“We will have a little party on the wedding day. She is saving her pocket money for one of the wee Royal mugs.”

The couple jetted into George Belfast Belfast City Airport shortly after 10am yesterday morning, where they were met by Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Dame Mary Peters, the Lord |Lieutenant of Belfast.

They were quickly whisked away to their first engagement of the day, at Belfast City Hall, where they paused on the steps of the front door to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

There to greet them was the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Pat |Convery.

After disappearing inside, the couple re-emerged nearly 45 minutes later to greet the public.

With William close by, Kate chatted to onlookers, proudly flashing her engagement ring, before joining children in tossing pancakes.

The visit was taking place amid tight security, and heavily armed police watched from nearby rooftops and patrolled the |surrounding area. Then it was a short journey across the city for the second leg of their visit, at the headquarters of Youth Action NI, a charity which offers opportunities to young people from disadvantaged areas of the province.

The couple were entertained by a short music and drama |performance.

The audience of 150 invited guests included First Minister Peter Robinson and Youth Action's president Shane O'Neill.

Prince William presented certificates to young people who had completed an 18-month programme of training, before taking time out to chat. June Trimble, director of Youth Action, said she was thrilled to welcome William and Kate to the charity.

“Positive role models are very important in our work with young people and the Royal couple certainly are ambassadors for young people,” she said.

Mr Robinson said it was “unfortunate” that the visit was not widely known beforehand — because of security reasons — “because you would have had thousands of people here to greet them and to wish them well”.

Their next stop-off was a private meeting with Mr Paterson at |Hillsborough Castle, followed by lunch.

Dozens of people had gathered outside the 18th-century mansion, where the relaxed-looking prince fielded compliments from female members of the crowd.

The final point on their flying visit was Greenmount College, where the couple were greeted by dignitaries, including Mayor of Antrim Pam Lewis and Lord Lieutenant of Antrim Joan Christie.

Yesterday’s visit to Northern Ireland is the final leg of William and Kate’s pre-wedding tour of the UK.

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