Belfast Telegraph

Royal dazzler: Meghan and Harry vow crowds on first trip to Northern Ireland

Royal Golden couple charm crowds during whistle-stop tour of city

By Victoria Leonard

Belfast city centre came to a standstill yesterday afternoon as Prince Harry and bride-to-be Meghan Markle wowed crowds with their glamour and charm.

Escorted by a fleet of police motorbikes, the fifth in line to the throne and his American fiancee swept into the capital city to visit the world-famous Crown Liquor Saloon, the second engagement on their whistle-stop tour.

Upon entering the landmark, the royal couple marvelled at the ornate Victorian building, which is owned by the National Trust and features period gas lighting, snugs and stained-glass windows.

The groom-to-be joked with Heather McLachlan, the National Trust's director for Northern Ireland, asking, "Are you open?", before declaring, "We want food".

His fiancee added: "We saw the menu last week, and said 'We'll have this'."

General manager of the Crown Andy Dickinson revealed that Ms Markle had dined on a lunch of Irish stew, while the prince had enjoyed sausage and champ.

Each also sampled half a pint of Guinness and of Mourne Gold pale ale.

"It's really exciting to be part of the build-up to their wedding and to get a chance to show off Northern Ireland and the Crown to the rest of the world," Andy told the Belfast Telegraph.

"They seemed like a genuinely lovely couple and we wished them well for the wedding."

The bar's area manager, Alan Campbell, said Prince Harry had described a visit to the Crown as being "on pretty much everybody's bucket list".

"He has obviously been able to tick it off his bucket list, but he is more than welcome to come back for his stag do," he joked.

"He seemed interested to learn that we sold 120,000 pints of Guinness a year.

"It's particularly special to have them here as part of their pre-wedding tour, a real honour for the Crown bar and for Belfast. They seemed very happy together - there was lots of conversation and giggling at each other's jokes."

The couple were presented with a unique wedding gift by Bushmills Whiskey master distiller Colum Egan (48).

"When Prince Charles came here to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Bushmills Whiskey in 2008, he signed a barrel," Colum recalled.

"We took a plank of wood from the barrel and made coasters inscribed with 'M' and 'H' as well as Harry's coat of arms, then we had a presentation box built in the shape of a barrel.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet well-wishers during a walkabout in Belfast after a visit to the Crown Bar in the city centre. Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Crown Bar in Belfast on March 23rd 2018 at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Catalyst Inc, Northern Irelands next generation science park, to meet young entrepreneurs and innovators on March 23, 2018 in Belfast, Nothern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Catalyst Inc, Northern Irelands next generation science park, to meet young entrepreneurs and innovators. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Catalyst Inc, Northern Irelands next generation science park, to meet young entrepreneurs and innovators on March 23, 2018 in Belfast, Nothern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle reacts to wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after a visit to the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast City Centre. Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after a visit to the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince Harry shelters under an umbrella as he meets wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after he and Meghan Markle visited the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Meghan Markle interacts with crowd as she departs from the Crown Liquor Saloon during her visit with Prince Harry to Northern Ireland on March 23, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle shelters from the rain under an umbrella as she waves to wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after a visit to the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Meghan Markle waves to wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after a visit to the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Prince Harry interacts with crowd as he departs from the Crown Liquor Saloon during his visit with Meghan Markle to Northern Ireland on March 23, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle shelters under an umbrella as she meets wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after she and Prince Harry visited the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Meghan Markle shelters under an umbrella as she meets wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after she and Prince Harry visited the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet wellwishers during a walkabout in Belfast after a visit to the Crown Bar in the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exit the Crown Bar following a visit to learn of its heritage, as they start a walkabout in Belfast City centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exit the Crown Bar following a visit to learn of its heritage, as they start a walkabout in Belfast City centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Crowds wait for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to exit the Crown Bar which they visited to learn from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and meet bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast City Centre where they learnt from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and met bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast City Centre where they learnt from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and met bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive for a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast City Centre where they learnt from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and met bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wave to the crowds as they arrive for a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast City centre to learn from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and meet bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wave to the crowds as arrive for a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast City centre to learn from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and meet bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive for a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast City centre to learn from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and meet bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Crowds wait for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to arrive for a walkabout in Belfast City centre where they will visit the Crown Bar and learn from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and meet bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
The Crown Bar in Belfast City Centre where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will visit to learn from National Trust representatives about the pub's heritage, and meet bar staff, local comedians and musicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 23, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

"Inside, there is a specially commissioned whiskey that was distilled in 2002 - the year which Harry and Meghan reached the legal drinking age.

"It's unique, matured in a sherry cask to give it a nice fruity flavour, and accompanied by a decanter and two glasses.

"It would be lovely to think they might have a drop of Bushmills on their wedding day.

"You could really see how in love they are. They seem ideal together."

Holywood comedian Shane Todd said he was thrilled to meet the royal couple but disappointed he didn't have time to share any jokes.

"I had four or five jokes waiting to go, but it's probably for the best that the opportunity didn't present itself," he laughed.

"I have told them that I will provide the entertainment for the wedding at mates' rates.

"I am a big fan of Suits, so I was probably more nervous about meeting Meghan than Harry.

"They both seemed like a very down-to-earth, modern couple, and I think the relatability of the younger royals is one reason why they are still so popular."

Musician Sam Halliday, of Two Door Cinema Club, agreed it was "refreshing to see a young, modern couple who reflect a new generation of royals".

"Harry has shown a more human side, particularly when talking about issues like mental health," he added.

As they emerged outside onto Great Victoria Street, the couple were greeted by cheers from the waiting crowds.

The couple chat with crowds in Belfast
The couple chat with crowds in Belfast
The couple chat with crowds in Belfast
The couple chat with crowds in Belfast
Colum Egan of Bushmills Distillery shows off their bespoke wedding gift
The couple chat with crowds in Belfast

Queen's Postgraduate student Yasmina El Saeh (22) said she had "run through the streets in the rain" to catch a glimpse of the special visitors.

"I'm a big fan of the royals, and Meghan is such a great example for women's empowerment and gender equality," she explained.

"She is giving a new dimension to the royal family, focusing on education and equal rights.

"I think if Princess Diana was alive she would be very happy that Meghan was getting married to her son. She reminds me of Diana."

Medical student Rebecca Smylie (24), who shook hands with the happy couple, was also delighted to meet them.

"I think that they are following in her (Diana's) footsteps - they spent a lot of time talking to people.

"I'm a real royal fan and Meghan is just gorgeous.

"They were a lovely couple and they work well together. You could really see the connection between them."

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