Belfast Telegraph

Barely a ripple in Kilkeel harbour over Baron and Baroness's move

Prince Harry and Meghan are Baron and Baroness of Kilkeel
Prince Harry and Meghan are Baron and Baroness of Kilkeel
Prince Harry and Meghan, with son Archie, are Baron and Baroness of Kilkeel
Russell Shepcar
James Cunningham Snr in Kilkeel
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The decision by the Baron and Baroness of Kilkeel to step back from their roles as senior royals was met with a mixed reaction from residents of the Co Down fishing port.

A brisk breeze was blowing through the main street of the town on Thursday when the Belfast Telegraph questioned locals about their reaction to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's surprise announcement.

Very few people were willing to give their opinion, while others told this reporter they simply didn't care.

However, local business owner James Cunningham Snr of Cunningham Butchers on Newcastle Street said he was "disappointed", although he respected their decision.

"I'm not privy to their private life and I'm sure they're under pressure," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I really do hope that they do stay on as Baron and Baroness of Kilkeel because everyone in Kilkeel is delighted that they are Baron and Baroness, and they're a lovely couple."

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council extended an invitation to Harry and Meghan to visit Kilkeel after the pair were conferred with the titles of Baron and Baroness by the Queen following their marriage in May 2018.

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The couple officially turned down the offer in November 2018.

The council was informed by the assistant private secretary to the Duchess that, while they welcomed their Kilkeel titles and were delighted with the invite to their "namesake town", they could not accept it at "this moment in time".

Despite that, Mr Cunningham is still hopeful they will pay a visit to the seaside town in the future.

"Kilkeel has got lovely people, it's a brilliant wee town to visit, it's got fantastic facilities, we've got the mountains up above us, we've got the harbour down below and we've got a brand new ferry over to Carlingford," he said.

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James Cunningham Snr in Kilkeel

"This is a fantastic place to come and I'm sure Harry and Meghan will come some day, even if they have to fly from Canada."

He added that the couple have received some "bad Press" recently, something he felt they did not deserve.

"I'm disappointed they've made that decision and I hope it can be reversed in the future, but I do respect them and perhaps they just want to live a life in Canada," continued Mr Cunningham.

Meanwhile, at the Royal British Legion, in the heart of the bustling harbour, no one wanted to state their views on Meghan and Harry's decision, but one man did say "each to their own".

In another Kilkeel pub, a barman felt that stepping back from royal duties was something that should have been done "300 years ago".

In response, a patron quickly said: "Now, now, that might be your opinion but it's not the opinion of Kilkeel."

Fishing boat owner Russell Shepcar said he didn't even know that Harry and Meghan had the title of Baron and Baroness of Kilkeel, so it didn't make "much difference" to him.

He conceded that the titles probably brought some well deserved attention to the town, and said it was a "shame".

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Russell Shepcar

"There's a lot of people working hard around the harbour to bring attention to Kilkeel and get Kilkeel on the map," added Mr Shepcar.

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