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The Queen to start two-day Northern Ireland visit

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are set to begin a two-day visit to Northern Ireland on Monday, during which they will meet the First and Deputy First Ministers.

They will also meet Secretary of State Theresa Villiers during engagements in Hillsborough Castle in Belfast, the official residence of the Queen in Northern Ireland.

On Tuesday, the Royal couple will visit the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, before travelling to Bushmills, County Antrim.

There the royal couple will unveil a statue to Sgt Robert Quigg of the Royal Irish Rifles who won a Victoria Cross, the highest military award for valour, for ‘most conspicuous bravery’ during the Battle of the Somme, the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front and one of the bloodiest battles in history.

The new statue will be sited in the centre of the village, looking towards the war memorial commemorating more than 20 comrades from the village who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The centenary of the battle falls on 1 July, and members of the Royal Family will attend engagements both in the UK and in France to commemorate the occasion. In particular, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend a service and vigil at Westminster Abbey on 30 June. It will be the first time the Abbey has been open all night for a vigil since peace vigils for the Cuban Missile Crisis over fifty years ago.

The Queen and the Duke will also attend a reception at Portrush Golf Club as guests of the Mayor of Coleraine and travel to Bellarena, County Londonderry, to unveil a plaque marking the opening of a new railway station.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh last visited Northern Ireland in June 2014. The most recent visit to Northern Ireland by members of the Royal Family was earlier this month, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Hillsborough Castel garden party hosted annually by the Secretary of State.

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