Prince Charles has private meetings with Northern Ireland political leaders


The Prince of Wales has met Northern Ireland's political leaders on the second day of his visit to the region.

The private and separate meetings with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness began a packed schedule for the heir to the throne.

The prince talked with the Democratic Unionist leader and Sinn Fein veteran in two 20 minute behind-closed-doors encounters at the royal residence at Hillsborough Castle.

The leaders updated Charles on the current political and economic situation in Northern Ireland.

The Duchess of Cornwall will accompany Charles later on Tuesday for a number of visits to local businesses and places of interest.

Later, the royal couple will host a musical evening at Hillsborough Castle.

On Wednesday, the Prince and Duchess will travel across the Irish border to Co Donegal.

The visit to the Republic of Ireland is at the request of the UK Government and follows Charles and Camilla's trip to the country this time last year when the Prince toured the place where his great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by the IRA in 1979.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "The visits will recognise the warm friendship that exists between both countries, promoting understanding of their respective heritage and celebrating the best that each has to offer."

Charles arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday, when he was given a glimpse into the high-tech world of internet security during a visit to Queen's University's first Global Research Institute at the Science Park in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

On his first public engagement of the day, the Prince visited one of Ireland's oldest Presbyterian churches in Portaferry, on the tip of the Ards Peninsula in Co Down.

It marked Portaferry Presbyterian's reopening as the Portico arts centre after eight years and almost £1 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund plus dozens of other benefactors.

It is modelled on the Temple of Nemesis and the facade is dominated by six Doric columns.

Ian McDonnell, chair of the Friends of Portaferry Church, said the Heritage Lottery Fund had donated a remarkable sum "without which we would be sitting in a dank, damp, dangerous building and certainly not celebrating".

Charles said it was an enormous pleasure to be able to join the congregation for the reopening.

"It is a remarkable project and for me it is very special to be able to join you on this occasion to rededicate this building," he said.

"I hope it will provide everybody who lives in this particular town with something very special for the future."

The prince was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall for a number of afternoon engagements in Co Armagh.

The royal couple first visited the Yellow Door deli in Portadown town centre where they chatted with a range of local food and drink producers.

Charles and Camilla embarked on walkabouts before and after the visit, greeting Union flag waving well wishers lining the streets.

Afterwards the couple travelled to Ulster Carpets factory in the town.

Among the carpets being manufactured in the long established business is one destined for Buckingham Palace.