Belfast Telegraph

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a garden party at Hillsborough Castle

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived to a Co Down bathed in sunshine for a royal garden party at Hillsborough Castle.

They met a host of dignitaries, including First Minister Arlene Foster, on the steps of the historic building for the playing of the national anthem.

The couple then made their way to the gardens where they chatted with guests.

Catherine wore a coat by Day Birger et Mikkelsen and a hat by Lock & Co.

She also wore a brooch presented to her as a wedding gift from the Irish Guards.

The region's secretary of state has hosted the garden party event annually since 1984.

Around 2,500 guests were invited by Theresa Villiers this year, with attendees drawn from a wide cross-section of Northern Ireland society, including the voluntary and community sectors, local charities and youth organisations.

A 63-piece Ulster Orchestra started proceedings off with a bang by playing arrangements from local composers Howard Ferguson and Hamilton Harty when the royal couple appeared in the castle gardens.

Those hoping for a first visit to Northern Ireland by Prince George and Princess Charlotte will be left disappointed as the children are staying at home on this occasion.

The latest royal visit comes following a weekend of celebrations for the Queen's 90th birthday.

Prince William paid tribute to his grandmother during a street party in The Mall as someone "we all look up to in good times and in challenging moments to set an example".

Royal watchers will be hoping today's engagement is as memorable as the last time William and Kate visited Northern Ireland in 2011 when they arrived as part of a UK tour ahead of their marriage.

On that occasion Kate wowed crowds at the City Hall in Belfast when she flipped pancakes to mark Shrove Tuesday.

The couple also accepted a framed photograph of City Hall and a book on the building's architectural history.

Earlier this year the Duchess was criticised for putting time with her children before a 115-year-old tradition of presenting St Patrick's Day shamrock to the Irish Guards.

One of William and Kate's official titles is Baron and Baroness Carrickfergus - but William and Kate have yet to set foot in the Co Antrim town together and will not do so during today's visit either.

However, rumours are rife the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will make their first appearance at Royal Ascot later this week.

William Hill bookmakers have even suspended betting on the couple making an appearance at the meeting.

Jon Ivan-Duke, a spokesman for the bookmakers, said: "We were offering odds of 2-1 that the Duchess would be in the Queen's carriage this week - this now looks a certainty. The question now is will Prince George be going too."

The firm is offering odds of 10-1 that William and Kate's toddler son will join them at the famous Berkshire racecourse.

The Royal Family - especially the colour of the Queen's hat - are usually the basis for novelty bets during the five-day racing event.

William Hill have made blue the 2-1 favourite for the colour of the Queen's hat on the opening day.

Mr Ivan-Duke added: "We have had our first gamble on the Queen's hat today with almost 85% of bets for blue. We think the gamble is based on the chilly weather forecast when blue would perhaps be more appropriate than yellow."

Known for its strict dress code in the Royal Enclosure, Royal Ascot is one of the highlights of the racing and social calendar.

Each year around 300,000 racegoers descend on the racecourse and drink their way through 51,000 bottles of champagne, eat 5,000 kilos of salmon, 2,900 lobsters, 7,000 punnets of berries and bet thousands of pounds on the horses.

The Queen is a passionate horse owner and breeder and has watched more than 20 of her thoroughbreds triumph at Royal Ascot.

Her thoroughbred Estimate won the Gold Cup in 2013, when the monarch could not contain her delight as it romped home.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph