Belfast Telegraph

Royal visit to Northern Ireland: The Queen lays wreath in memory of Irish soldiers who died in First World War

By Ed Carty and David Young

The Queen has ended a three day trip to Northern Ireland by laying a wreath to commemorate Irish service personnel who died in the First World War.

Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh were guests of honour at the commemorative event in Coleraine, Co Londonderry to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict and all those who lost their lives in the subsequent four years.

The Royal couple flew to Coleraine from her official residence at Hillsborough Castle where earlier they chatted to experts from the Antiques Roadshow who assessed items from the castle's collections.

Among the pieces the specialists focused on was a small, bronze sculpture of a horse and jockey, believed to be of the 1863 Derby winner Macaroni.

The history of the work by French artist Pierre Jules Mene, and the race, stirred interest after they revealed the Epsom winner took home the spoils after 32 false starts.

"It seems very incompetent doesn't it," the Queen said. "But quite interesting."

Later in Coleraine, members of the Royal British Legion from both sides of the Irish border attended the civic reception in the Town Hall.

Men from all over Ireland fought in the First World War, which ended three years before the island was partitioned.

Hundreds of well-wishers braved the rain outside Town Hall to grab any vantage point going to get a glimpse of the Royal Couple.

While crowds waving Union flags packed around the square, local shop and office workers took a break to watch proceedings from first and second floor windows.

Re-enactors dressed in period costume added to the nostalgic feel and, after the solemnity of the wreath laying and minute's silence, the Queen embarked on a walkabout to say hello to some of those who had turned up to see her.

The reception marked the end of a packed three days for the Queen and Duke, with trips to a film set, an old prison and a packed lunchtime market among the highlights.

On their penultimate engagement earlier this morning, they discussed several items with Antiques Roadshow specialists at Hillsborough.

Hundreds of people from across Northern Ireland are expected to queue tomorrow to have possessions valued for the filming of the latest episode of the BBC series.

The Co Down home has been part of the Historic Royal Palaces group since April and is now open to the public.

Prince Philip was keen to find out when their discussions with the experts would air, expected to be in the autumn, or late summer.

The Queen turned from signing the visitors' book to add: "If it is in August then even better because we might have a chance to see it."

In private discussions with the show's experts, the Queen said she thought she was aware of the owner of 1863 Derby winner, Liverpool banker Richard Naylor. The horse was bred by Richard Grosvenor, second Marquess of Westminster.

The royals were also shown a George IV library table, one of a pair kept at Hillsborough; an 18th century Chinese soup tureen and five figurines from a Meissen monkey orchestra, both of which are held in the National Museum of Northern Ireland.

One of the more interesting pieces was a Wagga Wagga stick which was gifted to the Queen on her tour of Australia in 1954. There is no explanation of how the Aboriginal fighting club ended up in Hillsborough.

The Antiques Roadshow's Paul Atterbury, an expert in miscellaneous items, John Axford, an expert in ceramics and the Far East, and Hilary Kay, also an expert in miscellaneous items, introduced the items and spent about 10 minutes with the royals.

Ms Kay introduced a christening cup to the Queen that has a strong connection to the royal family.

"What was lovely about this is, this is a piece unlike the other objects as it has a direct family connection," she said.

"She loved the silver and she was very interested in the stories behind the items - they were both interested in everything on the table."

The cup was gifted to the daughter of the chief engineer on a transatlantic liner after she was born while Lord Granville, Governor of Northern Ireland, and his wife, were travelling on the ship to America.

On hearing the news Lady Granville, the Queen's aunt, said she would send a gift for the new arrival, Rose.

The Queen heard today how the young woman offered the silver back to the royal family and management of Hillsborough Castle, along with two family photographs, to add to their collections.

The Aboriginal fighting club stirred some interest from Prince Philip who wanted to know how it was traced to the royals going back to one of their earliest foreign trips 60 years ago.

"Where's the evidence?" he joked.

Mr Atterbury offered what little advice was available to the royals.

"The story between then and now is mysterious. I think that's like a lot of things that arrive here in the palace without any clear knowledge of how or why. All the things here (on the table) are in the house for one reason or another without the back story."

Ms Kay added: "The Queen was genuinely interested in finding out about the objects and she had a genuine interest in finding out how the Roadshow works."

The Queen and Duke also spent a short time meeting and greeting the staff of Hillsborough Castle before leaving for Coleraine.

On her last day in Northern Ireland, Her Majesty wore an Angela Kelly designed mint green crepe wool coat, a mint green silk dress with flowers of cream and mushroom and a matching hat with an intricate sinamay crown and origandi bow, crystals and feathers. Her brooch was made by Bronte Porcelain designed by Rob and Lucy Price.

Buckingham Palace officials have hailed what was the Queen's 21st visit to Northern Ireland as an overwhelming success.

While past trips have seen her itinerary closely guarded due to security fears, this week's engagements were publicised in advance and that open nature continued as the events unfolded.

The Queen's intimate walkabout in St George's market in Belfast city centre yesterday, which even saw teenagers stretching out in a bid to get "selfies" with the monarch, would have been unthinkable in past years.

As with a range of recent royal engagements involving Ireland, both north and south, the theme of reconciliation was to the fore, no more so when the Queen and Duke toured the regenerated old Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, both of whom were detained in the prison during the Troubles.

Further reading

Royal visit to Northern Ireland: One is allowed to take a selfie during monarch's trip

Royal visit to Northern Ireland: The Queen dresses to impress 

Royal visit to Northern Ireland: The Queen's up close and personal touch thrills the crowds 

Royal visit to Northern Ireland: Belfast enjoys a clever piece of marketing

Belfast can show the world how to overcome differences, Queen tells City Hall guests

Royal visit to Belfast: Queen says city should be an example to the world of people overcoming differences

Royal visit to Belfast: Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit Crumlin Road Gaol and Game of Thrones set

Queen hails example of Belfast

Martin McGuinness hails encounter with Queen at Hillsborough Castle as 'very nice'

Royal visit: Queen holds first one-to-one meeting with Martin McGuinness 

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