Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Queen Camilla meets Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly on NI visit

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It comes on the second day of her stay as she began a series of engagements in Northern Ireland.

The event was hosted by The Queen’s Reading Room at Hillsborough Castle and was named Northern Ireland: Poets and Their Place.

Camilla is known to be a supporter of the arts and has a strong interest in highlighting the importance of literature.

Watch: Queen meets with First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly

Hosted by distinguished poet, Paul Muldoon, The Queen watched performances from Derry Girls actor Ian McElhinney, actor Frances Tomelty, and contemporary poet Micheal Longley, taking the Queen and guests on a journey from the 18th Century to the present day.

After the performances, Her Majesty met performers, and invited guests such as Libraries NI, The Camilla Club (from Kilcooley Women’s Centre), and Arts Council Northern Ireland.

Queen Camilla meets staff at Coffey’s Butchers during a visit to Lisburn Road in Belfast to meet shop owners and staff. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Earlier, the Queen told well-wishers her husband the King was “doing very well” as she met business owners and staff at Coffey’s Butchers, Knotts Bakery, and Arcadia Delicatessen on the bustling Lisburn Road in south Belfast today.

The Queen was handed a get well card for her husband, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

There was an emphasis on local produce and favourite foods, with artisan and family producers sharing with the Queen their contributions to the community.

Queen Camilla meets the owner of Coffey’s Butchers during a visit to Lisburn Road in Belfast to meet shop owners and staff. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Owners and staff from Coffey’s Butchers, Knotts Bakery, and Arcadia Delicatessen all met the Queen and showed how traditional skills and methods of working are highly valued by these businesses. They also play an important role in supporting the local community.

Coffey’s has been operating on the Lisburn Road since 1929, with three generations of the family involved in running the business. The Queen met owner Phillip Armstrong and members of staff, learning how they are dedicated to preserving traditional butchery skills.

Camilla was presented with a gift of some local favourites at Coffey’s, including vegetable rolls and beer sausages, and responded saying: “I shall take these back for my husband, he will make the most of them”.

Queen Camilla meets staff at Arcadia Deli during a visit to Lisburn Road in Belfast. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

In Arcadia, a delicatessen that has been part of the Lisburn Road retail offering since 1933, Her Majesty spoke to the small and dedicated team that sells charcuterie, cheese, and local meats.

During her visit to The Arcadia, shop assistant Brenda Robb asked after Charles, and handed her a get well card for him, extending her best wishes.

Camilla accepted the card and thanked her, adding: “He’s doing very well …. he was very disappointed he couldn’t come”.

Responding to quips about men “not being the best patients”, Camilla said: “I try to keep him in order.”

Queen Camilla meets members of the public during a visit to Lisburn Road in Belfast. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Ms Robb told the PA news agency: “She was beautiful, a real lady. She accepted a get well card that I got for her husband and she said she was sorry her husband wasn’t here.

“It was a very appropriate card. It had a wee saying from Belfast, basically rest up, take care, and on the back of it, it said from Ireland. It was picked with love.

“People say maybe he’ll not get the card, but I think he will.”

At Knotts Bakery, The Queen learned how a team of skilled bakers continues to use traditional Ulster baking methods with no machinery involved. In 2022, The Corrie Family, a third-generation family of butchers and farmers purchased the business, which now employs 120 people.

While there she met owner William Corrie, as well as his wife, former Miss Northern Ireland and Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon, and their one-year-old son Fitz.

Queen Camilla meets the owner of Knotts Bakery, William Corrie, his wife Zoe Salmon and their son Fitz during a visit to Lisburn Road in Belfast. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Queen chuckled as a joke was made that the young boy, dressed in a tux, had stolen her thunder, and smiled down at him.

She left Knotts with a gift of their fruit loaf and iced madeira cake, adding she hoped to snack on it later.

Zoe Salmon, son Fitz, and her husband meet the Queen in Belfast

One of the people accompanying Camilla in the city was Lord Lieutenant of Belfast Dame Fionnuala Mary Jay-O’Boyle.

Camilla arrived on Wednesday evening and was greeted by staff at the royal residence Hillsborough Castle in Co Down as well as Lord Lieutenant for County Down, Gawn Rowan Hamilton.

Queen Camilla meets members of the public during a visit to Lisburn Road in Belfast to meet shop owners and staff. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A bugler from the Hillsborough Fort Guard played as Camilla arrived at Hillsborough Castle.

The Queen last visited Northern Ireland in May 2023 with the King on their first visit since the coronation.

This time Camilla travelled without her husband, who has stepped back from his public duties while he is treated for cancer.

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