Belfast Telegraph

Charles visits Orange Order museum on trip of diverse engagements

The Prince of Wales has toured an Orange Order museum during a visit to the island of Ireland aimed at promoting understanding of its differing traditions.

Charles was met by the thunderous beat of lambeg drums as he arrived at the sun-drenched heritage centre in Loughgall, Co Armagh that commemorates the birthplace of the Protestant loyal order.

The visit came on the second day of his trip to Northern Ireland and ahead of travelling across the Irish border to Co Donegal for a series of engagements on Wednesday.

Earlier, the prince held separate meetings with Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Hillsborough Castle. The region's leaders updated the heir to the throne on the current political and economic situation.

Mrs Foster again met Charles as he toured the Museum of Orange Heritage.

"It's a great day, it's a marvellous day and the weather has played its part as well," said the Democratic Unionist leader.

"It's great to see so many people here to welcome His Royal Highness to Loughgall."

Republic of Ireland government minister Heather Humphreys was also among invited guests who were introduced to the royal visitor.

"I was delighted to be here because it is important that all of the heritage that belongs to the island of Ireland is understood," she said.

Young and old waved Union flags as they lined the streets of the Co Armagh village to catch a glimpse of the VIP visitor.

Among them was 95-year-old Una Vincent, who chatted with the prince during his walkabout.

"I very much enjoyed it," she said. "It's a wonderful day."

During a private part of the visit, Charles met with a number of relatives of Orangemen killed during the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said it was a special day for the institution.

"We are absolutely thrilled to receive a Royal visitor as we play our part in Northern Ireland society moving forward to an accepted and shared future for all," he said.

"This was a special and momentous day which will live long in our memory and be cherished for many generations to come."

During his tour, Charles was shown a pair of gloves worn by King William of Orange in the 17th century. He also entered the parlour where the first documents were signed to herald the formation of the Orange Order in 1795.

The Duchess of Cornwall joined the prince for the second day of his Northern Ireland visit, with the couple fulfilling a number of joint and separate engagements.

As Charles visited the Orange Order museum, Camilla toured a nearby cider producer.

Earlier, both royals sampled some cider in the Yellow Door deli in Portadown town centre as they met a range of local food and drink producers.

The couple also toured the Ulster Carpets factory in Portadown.

Among the carpets being manufactured in the long established business is one destined for Buckingham Palace.

On his first public engagement of the day, Charles visited one of Ireland's oldest Presbyterian churches in Portaferry, on the tip of the Ards Peninsula in Co Down.

It marked Portaferry Presbyterian's reopening as the Portico arts centre after eight years and almost £1 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund plus dozens of other benefactors.

On Tuesday evening, the royal couple were hosting a musical evening at Hillsborough Castle.

On Wednesday, Charles and Camilla will travel across the Irish border to Co Donegal.

The visit to the Republic of Ireland is at the request of the UK Government and follows Charles and Camilla's trip to the country this time last year when the prince toured the place where his great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by the IRA in 1979.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "The visits will recognise the warm friendship that exists between both countries, promoting understanding of their respective heritage and celebrating the best that each has to offer."

Charles arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday, when he was given a glimpse into the high-tech world of internet security during a visit to Queen's University's first Global Research Institute at the Science Park in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.


From Belfast Telegraph