Belfast Telegraph

Video: Harry and Meghan launch a charm offensive in Dublin

Newly-wed royal couple make their mark on first foreign trip to the Republic

Crowds greet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the British Ambassador’s residence in Dublin
Crowds greet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the British Ambassador’s residence in Dublin
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex toast guests at a garden party at the British Ambassador’s residence at Glencairn House
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are greeted by Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar

By Kirsty Blake Knox

After Boris, David Davis, and the week's Brexit bust up, it was up to the shiniest royals to launch a full blown charm offensive in the Republic.

For the past 18 months, senior royal members have been touring EU neighbours to let them know everything is going to be hunky dory. And so the Duke and Duchess of Sussex touched down in Dublin airport late yesterday afternoon.

They looked suitably patriotic as they walked across the tarmac hand in hand.

Meghan opted for a forest green Givenchy pencil dress, Manolo Blahnik shoes and a Strathberry tote bag, while Harry look dapper in a navy single-breasted suit with olive green tie.

"She's so tiny, and too perfect," one onlooker said. "I bet she isn't sweating in this heat."

It was the couple's first royal engagement abroad post-royal wedding, and comes on the back of a few busy days for the newlyweds.

Yesterday, they attended the Centenary of the RAF celebrations at Westminster Abbey service before they hopped, skipped and jumped across the pond.

The trip had been billed as a 'mini-moon' but Prince Harry assured Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: "It's business really."

Although their brief encounter lasted less than half an hour, Mr Varadkar and the Duke of Sussex managed to discuss family, rugby and of course, the weather.

The Taoiseach gave the couple a short tour of his offices, starting with the building's corner which was laid by Harry's great-great-great grandfather Edward VII in April 1904.

The Taoiseach noted that he was only one in Prince Harry's company on one previous occasion at an Ireland versus England rugby match. The couple then headed to Mr Varadkar's office for a private meeting.

Sources say that during the private meeting, the Taoiseach and Prince Harry discussed the possibility of the Irish Defence Forces participating in the Invictus Games.

The Duchess also told the Taoiseach that she is an honorary member of the Philosophical Society in Trinity College.

From there the couple made their way to the British Ambassador's residence at Glencairn, accompanied by tight security, stopping off en route for a quick costume change.

The royal couple were accompanied by six Garda outriders, a 10-car convoy with around 15 armed Special Protection Officers.

"Tánaiste, Ambassador, a Dhaoine Uaisle," the Duke of Sussex said addressing the 300 guests gathered at Glencairn before adding hastily. "I hope I said that right."

In his speech, Harry thanked Tánaiste Simon Coveney for attending the garden party and for accompanying his father Prince Charles around Cork last month.

"I'm glad to hear he didn't bore you to tears," he said.

"My father was telling us last week how much he had enjoyed his recent visit; but said that each of his visits, over the years, holds a special place in his memory.

"My grandmother, the Queen, also spoke of her own visit in 2011 and the fantastic welcome that she too received.

"Standing here with you on this beautiful evening, it is easy to see why Ireland has such a special place in the hearts of my family and indeed, all those who come here.

"We're so pleased to be here, for our first official international visit together as a married couple, and we hope it will be the first of many.

"This is a very special relationship between two proud, sovereign countries. We share common values; culture, business links, family ties, and possibly a similar sense of humour.

"Our relationship is of course informed by our history, but it is also one which is now dynamic and forward looking," he added.

Simon Coveney also addressed the crowd and joked that he had been told to avoid the topic of Brexit.

He also said that Irish people were hoping that it would be 'coming home' for the English team this evening.

This was met with a muted round of applause.

The 300 guest list included people from the worlds of arts, sport, culture and charities.

Artistic director of The Gate Selina Cartmell, director of the national gallery Seán Rainbird, enjoyed canapes on the sun drenched lawn alongside actress Caitriona Balfe and CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan.

Activist Sinead Burke, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former President Mary Robinson were all in attendance.

Also present were designer Orla Kiely, Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Huberman, Moe Dunford, Barry Keoghan, Evanna Lynch, Lisa McGee, 'Young Offenders' star Alex Murphy, and Breadwinner Director Nora Twomey.

Ruby Walsh, referee Joy Neville, Katie McCabe, Gary Ringrose, and Noelle Linehan joined Minister Simon Harris and Sinn Fen's Mary Lou McDonald.

Guests enjoyed glasses of prosecco, and tucked into crab meat served in shot glasses and chicken skewers on the sun-drenched lawn.

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