Belfast Telegraph

The Queen knows all about thrones, but she may still be in for a surprise

Next week's royal visit will take in set of bloodcurdling fantasy epic shot in Belfast

By David Young

The bloodthirsty battle for the Iron Throne of Westeros in Game Of Thrones could be settled next week when the Queen visits the set of the hit fantasy drama in Belfast.

But any flunkies accompanying Her Majesty should take care to warn the monarch to avert her royal gaze as she steps over the pile of bodies left over from the final grisly episode of the series on Monday.

With the fourth series out of the way and King Joffrey's somewhat premature abdication – thanks to a flagon of poison at his own wedding – the path to the most fought-over throne on television is now clear for Her Majesty when she visits the Titanic Quarter set of the hit HBO drama.

The studios are just one stop-off for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on what will be three days of engagements here next week.

Northern Ireland is fast developing an international reputation as a leading filming destination, with the powersharing administration at Stormont offering attractive incentives to producers to film in the region.

Game Of Thrones is estimated to be the biggest TV production in Europe and its first four seasons have been credited with bringing a direct economic benefit of £82m to Northern Ireland – creating the equivalent of more than 900 full-time and some 5,700 part-time jobs.

Other notable engagements in the Queen and Duke's schedule include a visit to the historic Crumlin Road Gaol in north Belfast.

Once a prison synonymous with the dark years of the Troubles, its transformation into a popular visitor attraction is symbolic of Northern Ireland's journey away from conflict.

The royal couple will also be guests at a reception and lunch at Belfast City Hall, and will attend a garden party at Hillsborough Castle – the Queen's official residence in the province.

The castle is playing host to experts and crew from the Antiques Roadshow next week and the Queen and Duke will stop by to visit them during their stay.

During her time on this side of the Irish Sea, the Queen will also attend a Royal British Legion reception in Coleraine, where she will launch a programme of activities commemorating the First World War.

The Queen and Duke last visited Northern Ireland in 2012 as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

That occasion proved highly symbolic as the Queen shook hands with Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness.

Her Majesty is again set to meet Mr McGuinness next week on the royal couple's 21st visit here.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph