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Carrick hoping Wills and Kate take up long-standing invite to visit

By Amanda Ferguson

They may be Baron and Baroness Carrickfergus - but William and Kate have yet to set foot in the Co Antrim town together.

After five years away from Northern Ireland, locals are now encouraging the royal couple to take up a long-standing invitation to visit the coastal town.

Despite travelling the world - including a secret skiing holiday last week - and around the UK, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appear to have snubbed Northern Ireland.

The couple visited Belfast five years ago this week, a month before they got married.

At the time they were hosted at City Hall by the then Lord Mayor Pat Convery and Dame Mary Peters, the former Olympic gold medal winner, who was the Lord Lieutenant of Belfast.

But the pair - who now have two children, George and Charlotte - have yet to visit as a married couple.

The Duke faced accusations last month that he was "lazy" because he had carried out a limited number of engagements this year in comparison to his grandparents and other royals.

When the Queen bestowed the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on William and Kate following their wedding on April 29, 2011 they were also given the title of Earl and Countess of Strathearn and Baron and Baroness Carrickfergus.

The DUP mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council Billy Ashe said the royal couple would get a very warm welcome in Carrickfergus and he hoped they would visit soon.

"We have had an open invitation to them from the title was bestowed and the indication from the Palace was at that at some stage they would take up that offer," he said. "We would look forward to that immensely."

Independent councillor James Brown agreed.

"On their marriage I issued an open invitation to come to Carrickfergus at any time and when I was invested with my MBE in 2015 I mentioned it to Prince Charles too," Mr Brown said. "We have been dropping hints all along and I would hope we would have a royal visit in the town.

"We have William's wedding tunic on display in the civic centre and I know the people of Carrickfergus would be delighted with a visit."

Ukip councillor Noel Jordan said a visit from William and Kate would be "a boost for Carrickfergus and Northern Ireland".

"It would be an honour to have royalty put their toes in our wee country," he said. "We are a very patriotic town with a lot of military history, being a garrison town.

"The Queen was in Carrickfergus a long time ago and we would be more than happy and honoured to welcome the royal couple."

When the Belfast Telegraph contacted Buckingham Palace to enquire about the possibility of a royal visit to Carrickfergus, a spokeswoman said it "can't comment on engagements in advance".

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