The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Bellaghy today for the first of a four-day visit to Northern Ireland.
Prince Charles and Camilla began their day at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace, a visitor centre dedicated to the memory of the Irish poet and Noble Laureate Seamus Heaney. Prince Charles revealed that he is a big fan of Heaney’s work and was recorded reciting his poem ‘The Shipping Forecast.’ Addressing the crowd at the HomePlace, he said that poets helped people discover their shared humanity.
“Our varied histories, voices, and traditions can create all the greater harmony when they come together,” His Royal Highness said. “After all it is differences that make harmony possible, even as it is the barriers that have been overcome to make friendship all the stronger.”
“All this is in the spirit of the great poet whose extraordinary work we are celebrating here today. One who saw differences as opportunities for understanding and exchange, one who learned in Bellaghy what it means to belong and who with great generosity extended that belonging to the world.”
The Prince and Duchess later travelled to Derry city, to visit a new cancer care unit at Altnagelvin Hospital. The £50 million facility will provide treatment to patients from both the north and south, allowing people to make short trips across the Irish border rather than travelling long distances to Galway or Dublin.
Prince Charles and Camilla will carry out a number of official engagements during their visit, including opening a memorial garden dedicated to members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) who lost their lives in the line of duty. The Prince of Wales will also tour the United Nations Training School in Ireland, while the Duchess of Cornwall will visit the Irish National Stud.
On Thursday, the pair will visit Kilkenny Castle, where they will be greeted by OPW Minister and Galway East TD (Teachta Dala, a member of the lower house of the Irish Parliament) Sean Canney, who told Galway Bay that he is delighted to be welcoming the royal couple.
Finally, in Dublin, Their Royal Highnesses will attend ceremonies in Glasnevin Cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives during the First World War and the Easter Rising. They will meet the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and Irish politician Taoiseach Enda Kenny, before concluding their visit by attending a reception hosted by the British ambassador.
This trip to Ireland is at the request of the British government. Before their Royal Highnesses’s arrival, Clarence House released a statement saying: “This visit will showcase the strength and vitality of the connections between the United Kingdom and Ireland; and the friendship and partnership that has defined our relationship over recent years.”
“The Prince and Duchess’s programme will allow them to honour those men and women whose sacrifice in times of conflict shaped our two countries’ shared history; and to celebrate all that we do together to cement peace and secure a prosperous future.”