Belfast Telegraph

It’s game on for Harry and Meghan as royals enjoy visit to Croke Park

By Kirsty Blake Knox

The royals can fit a lot into 24 hours.

A garden party, tussling with the Irish President's dogs, multiple costume changes, thousands of handshakes, a potted history of the Great Famine, and a glass of Guinness no less.

Yesterday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, continued their two-day tour of Dublin with a visit to GAA headquarters in Croke Park.

Last year Prince Charles nearly took out some of the Press corps with the ball when he had a go at hurling in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle.

His son, however, was slightly more reticent - politely declining the opportunity to do the same on the hallowed turf of Croke Park.

Instead, he spoke to Galway All-Ireland winner Joe Canning about the World Cup as Meghan skilfully navigated her way across the wet grass in stiletto heels. No easy task.

Harry told Canning he heard he was "something of a God", but the UK photographers were less taken by the hurling legend.

They urged Canning to "get out of the shot" - much to the bemusement of the Irish Press.

Among those waiting to meet the royals were Tom Whooley (8) from Clonakilty in Co Cork and Cara Leonard (12) from Omagh in Co Tyrone.

Tom handed Harry his hurley. "It's much lighter than I expected," said the prince, lifting it in the air.

He also examined Tom's helmet and face-guard. "Have you taken a ball in the face - or have you put a ball in someone else's face?" he joked.

Earlier in the day a rogue reporter had broken with royal protocol and screamed "Is it coming home?" at the Duke during his meeting with Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

"Most definitely, yes," he replied smiling.

It was the fourth time Harry has met the President, most recently in July 2016 at an event marking the Battle of the Somme.

Both Harry and Meghan seemed particularly taken with the President's dogs Brod and Sioda, who plonked themselves at Meghan's feet.

Across the city, in the grounds of Trinity College, crowds with posters and placards started to build. There was a shriek of excitement when the couple emerged from the historic Long Room and embarked on a 25-minute walkabout.

David Balfany, on holiday from the US, said he invited Meghan to a reunion at Northwestern University, where they were both students. "She told me she didn't think she would be able to make it," he laughed.

Pauline Beatty was delighted to have got a hug and a kiss from Harry. "When I asked him for the hug he said: 'I can't hug you because then I'll have to hug everybody else.' So I just grabbed him. He was scarlet."

The walkabout proved to be thirsty work, so the couple made their way to the Delahunt restaurant on Camden Street for lunch where they shared an intimate table in the glass-panelled snug.

They enjoyed a starter of smoked salmon on Guinness bread, followed by roast hake, curried mussels and saffron potato (for her), and salt-aged sirloin of Irish lamb with pressed potato (for him). Apparently, Meghan enjoyed a glass of Guinness with their meal.

Belfast Telegraph

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