Belfast Telegraph

Day of rain, laughter and sunny smiles

Hillsborough Castle

By Christine Carrigan

Pinkie fingers may have been turning blue as the tea was downed at the Secretary of State's annual garden party yesterday.

But the inclement Ulster weather did not deter the almost 2,000 strong crowd from trying to catch a glimpse of His Royal Highness, Prince Harry.

Upon arrival at Hillsborough Castle, the prince was greeted by a chorus of gasps from the children of Downshire Primary School and Beechlawn School.

One lucky student from Beechlawn who got to speak with the prince was 16-year-old Jack McKinnley.

Jack said: "I was really excited.

"I asked him how George was in school, but he doesn't know until he gets back to London."

Outside in the main garden amongst high heels caked in mud and broken umbrellas, there was bright smiles and cheery laughter from members of the public as they waited eagerly for the Prince.

As the unrelenting rain poured down, many choose to hide under the marquee until Harry made his appearance, but a brave few battled the elements and had tea at the outside tables with an improvised brolly shelter.

One woman battling the elements was 34-year-old Amanda Carrol, from Dungannon, who was hoping to get a selfie with the prince.

She said: "This is our first year here, the weather has put a bit of a damper on it, but I won't let it bother me.

"I am going to ask him for a selfie... as you do," she joked.

At 3.40pm, cheers - and in some cases uncontrollable screaming - erupted from the crowd as Harry entered the garden and started to greet the line of ex-emergency service members and other community workers.

Among them was Kenny McCahon who was attending the garden party on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Mr McCahon said: "He was very pleasant, we were actually joking about the weather."

The prince's humour and casual attitude was certainly a hit with his guests. Despite slippery grass and twisted ankles, there wasn't a sad face as crowds departed from the castle grounds.

Belfast Telegraph

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