PRINCE Andrew, Colonel in Chief of the first and second Royal Irish battalions, was paying a flying visit to the regiment in Northern Ireland yesterday as news broke of the death of Corporal McNeill.
The Prince was making his first inspection of Royal Irish troops at their new base outside Belfast during a whistlestop tour of the province.
The Duke of York took a parade of A Company at the Clonaver Park Army reserve base on the Old Holywood Road.
The HQ was previously the base for 40 Signals Regiment which disbanded last year.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said that he visit "allowed him to be briefed on the expanding role of Army reserves in Northern Ireland and to see first-hand the roles and responsibilities of soldiers deployed in operations over the past number of years".
The Duke then attended a reception at Hillsborough Castle hosted by the Northern Ireland Science Park.
The event was one of a regular series of events organised by the Science Park's Halo 'business angel' network.
The programme help companies prepare to pitch their ideas to entrepreneurs and potential investors.
Halo has facilitated the investment of nearly £7m into companies in Northern Ireland.
Seven Northern Ireland companies pitched their businesses to a group of potential 'angel investors' and an audience of entrepreneurs including Prince Andrew.
Angel investors are affluent individuals who provide capital for a business start-up. While they expect to benefit financially at some point, many take on a mentoring role.
Halo has just announced that three companies from Northern Ireland will have an opportunity to take part in a showcase London event – Pitch at the Palace – later this year.