Belfast Telegraph

Watch: 'I can't believe I met a Prince' - Harry on first official trip to Northern Ireland

Prince Harry has made his first official visit to Northern Ireland, with a series of engagements in Ballymena, Belfast and Hillsborough.

He first opened a new multi-million pound ambulance station in Ballymena on Thursday morning, before heading to Belfast.

There he met with representatives of peace-building organisation Co-operation Ireland at the MAC along with a range of youth organisations to hear about their cross-community work.

In 2012 Co-operation Ireland hosted a historic and highly symbolic handshake between late Sinn Fein deputy first minister and life-long republican Martin McGuinness and the Queen.

The charity’s chief executive, Peter Sheridan, said: “Today was about reaching out to the next generation, to the next generation of the Royal Family, the next generation of young people across this island, whatever background they come from.”

Niamh McCourt, from Lumen Christi College, told the Belfast Telegraph: "I can't believe I met a Prince. He seemed really down to earth and nice."

Aodhan Mackin, 16, from Ardoyne, said: “Not many people would think to meet the Prince but we did meet him, so it was good, and he was down to earth.”

Harry was applauded as he left Belfast’s MAC arts centre where he met community groups working on peace-building and issues like promoting good mental health.

Earlier the 32-year-old visited the new £5.6m Northern Ireland Ambulance Service station in Co Antrim.

Alison Graham got to meet Prince Harry with her daughter Hannah (3). She said: "He's lovely. He's just warm and genuine. It just made my day."

Prince Harry meets guests at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets guests at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry plants a tree at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets guests at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire pause for the national anthem at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets guests at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry looks up at a police helicopter talks to children from Downshire Primary School as he arrives for a garden party at Hillsborough Castle during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry pictured meeting Lauren Maze from Markethill outside the Mac theatre in Belfast Northern Ireland Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Prince Harry pictured meeting members of the public that were keen to take photos of the prince outside the Mac theatre in Belfast Northern Ireland Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Prince Harry is pictured meeting guests whilst visiting Co-Operation Ireland, a peace building organisation working to encourage and promote interaction, dialogue and collaboration within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Prince Harry on first visit to Northern Ireland. Prince Harry pictured meeting members of the public that were keen to take photos of the prince outside the Mac theatre in Belfast Northern Ireland Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Prince Harry waves as he leaves The MAC in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry is pictured with Lord Lieutenant, County Borough of Belfast Mrs Fionnuala Jay-OBoyle and Chairman of Co-Operation Ireland Dr. Christopher Moran whilst visiting Co-Operation Ireland, a peace building organisation working to encourage and promote interaction, dialogue and collaboration within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Prince Harry meets Julia Crozier (right) and her four month old baby Rebekah as Emma Mason (second left) and her seven month old son Henry Mason look on in St Anne's Square, Belfast, during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 7, 2017. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Prince Harry is photographed with school children in St Anne's Square, Belfast, during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 7, 2017. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Prince Harry meets members of the public in St Anne's Square, Belfast, during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 7, 2017. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Prince Harry meets a range of range of youth organisations at The MAC in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 7, 2017. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Prince Harry is pictured high giving a baby whilst visiting Co-Operation Ireland, a peace building organisation working to encourage and promote interaction, dialogue and collaboration within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The event was hosted at the MAC in BelfastÕs Cathedral Quarter. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Prince Harry is pictured meeting children from Victoria College prep School whilst visiting Co-Operation Ireland, a peace building organisation working to encourage and promote interaction, dialogue and collaboration within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The event was hosted at the MAC in BelfastÕs Cathedral Quarter. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Dr. Christopher Moran and Peter Sheridan OBE whilst visiting Co-Operation Ireland, a peace building organisation working to encourage and promote interaction, dialogue and collaboration within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The event was hosted at the MAC in BelfastÕs Cathedral Quarter. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Prince Harry is pictured meeting teenagers who took part in the Northern Ireland National Citizen Service whilst visiting Co-Operation Ireland, a peace building organisation working to encourage and promote interaction, dialogue and collaboration within Northern Ireland and the Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Prince Harry meets Emma Mason (second left) and her seven month old son Henry Mason in St Anne's Square, Belfast, during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets members of the public in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets a range of range of youth organisations at The MAC in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry talks to Hannah Joy Graham 3, who is in the crowd outside during his visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets with members of the public at the new £5m ambulance station in Ballymena on Thursday. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/09/2017 Prince Harry meets with members of the public at the new £5m ambulance station in Ballymena on Thursday , which also houses the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service's regional HQ, during Prince Harry;s first visit to Northern Ireland. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Prince Harry at the new £5m ambulance station in Ballymena on Thursday.
Prince Harry meets a range of range of youth organisations at The MAC in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets a range of range of youth organisations at The MAC in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry waves to the crowd during his visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry unveils a plaque opening the Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets ambulace crews during a visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets ambulace crews during a visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets ambulace crews during a visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry meets ambulace crews during a visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prince Harry's first visit to Northern Ireland. Thursday 7th September2017.Prince Harry visited Ballymena on his first engagement to officially open the new Northern Ireland Ambulance Service station which combines Ballymena Ambulance Station and North Division Headquarters. His Royal Highness was given a briefing from the design team behind the new £5.6million facility before watching a demonstration of the stations resources. He then undertook a tour of the station and had the chance to meet staff.Photo by simongraham.photography
Prince Harry jokes with Ivan Kenny by spinning him around as he is using climbing equipment in a display, during his visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION
Prince Harry talks to Ivan Kenny, who is using climbing equipment in a display, during his visit to Ballymena Northern Division HQ and Ambulance Station during a visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
7 September 17, Mandatory Credit ©Press Eye/Darren Kidd Prince Harry makes his first official visit to Northern Ireland. Beginning in Ballymena he opened the town's new £5m ambulance station, which also houses the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service's regional HQ. Before leaving Prince Harry took time to speak to crowds of people who came to see him. Hannah Joy Graham with Prince Harry.
Prince Harry arrives in Ballymena to meet ambulace staff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Alison's husband William is an emergency medical technician and also met Prince Harry inside the station.

The facility, which also doubles as the northern division headquarters, is the first major project the trust has delivered in over five years. It is strategically placed for access to the road network.

It replaces the old ambulance station and will hold 43 staff, five emergency vehicles and three non-emergency patient care vehicles.

From April 2016 to March 2017, around 15,000 emergency calls were made in the northern area with some 4,000 deemed the most serious status.

Prince Harry toured the building and was given a demonstration of the station's resources including the Hazardous Area Response Team's capabilities.

He unveiled a plaque to officially open the station before heading to Belfast.

He concluded his visit with a garden party at the Queen's official residence in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle, which was hosted by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

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