The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall brought crowds to an open-air market in Bangor and the harbour town of Donaghadee on the concluding day of their visit to Northern Ireland.
The royal couple began the day at Hillsborough Castle Gardens where they met with staff and signed the Vistors’ Book before heading to Bangor.
Charles and Camilla were greeted by local schoolchildren from Bangor Central Integrated Primary School and Bangor Central Nursery School as they arrived in the seaside town.
They were welcomed by the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Trevor Cummings, before taking time to talk to the children who waved flags that they had made for the occasion.
In front of a crowd of several hundred who had gathered, Charles and Camilla then toured the town’s market, which is in its 97th year, and met with various stallholders while inspecting the range of locally sourced produce on sale.
Charles heard about how the local council has restored the site and spoke to several traders about their locally sourced produce, including a range of organic goods.
The prince complimented one trader on his organic vegetables and potatoes and asked if they were grown under glass before saying “It’s always very encouraging when you find some earth on them”.
The couple then took part in separate engagements, with the Prince of Wales travelling to the harbour town of Donaghadee.
Charles viewed stones that line the harbour walls that are decorated with messages of hope.
They were left by members of the public during the Covid-19 pandemic and became a local attraction.
Charles also met with the crew of the lifeboat that is based at the picturesque Co Down harbour.
He then unveiled a plaque on the harbour front to commemorate the bicentenary of the Royal Charter of Donaghadee Harbour and the laying of the harbour’s foundation stone.
The prince then embarked on an impromptu walkabout to greet some of the hundreds of people who gathered on the seafront to welcome the heir to the throne.
He elbow-bumped several well-wishers as he stopped to speak to local people.
On his walkabout in Donaghadee, a schoolboy asked Charles how many TVs the Queen had.
“One I think,” replied the prince. “And maybe one or two elsewhere as well, you never know.”
Charles also stopped to stroke the pet dogs of one well-wisher.
Cathy McAllister, who lives on the sea front, said the visit had lifted the town’s spirits.
She said news of what had been planned as a low-key engagement had spread quickly through the town.
“It was supposed to be kept quiet but in Donaghadee things get round quite quickly,” she said.
“So it was a great turnout for him and such a lovely day – it really showcased the town at its very best.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the Prince of Wales visited the Co Tyrone village of Caledon.
On arrival, Charles waved to construction workers watching down from scaffolding on Mill Street as he toured the village.
He viewed the sites of development projects and also met with local community groups, including coaches and members of Caledon Rovers football club.
As he left the football club, local schoolgirl Daisy McCoy presented his Royal Highness with a bunch of flowers.
He then travelled to view the refurbished church hall at St John’s church.
On arrival, he chatted with two young mothers who brought their babies down to see the royal visitor.
Prior to departure, he unveiled a plaque in the church hall to commemorate his visit.
Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cornwall visited Kilcooley Women’s Centre in Bangor where she learned about its work in the local community.
The duchess met members of the “Camilla Club” – a virtual reading group established by the centre inspired by the royal’s Reading Room.
Camilla said she was “thrilled” to hear of the club, which ran over Zoom during lockdown.
She said she was delighted she was able to pay a visit to the centre on her trip to Northern Ireland.
“It’s wonderful and being here I was able to tie it all in and come visit you all,” she said.
In her final engagement, the duchess visited the Horses for People centre in Co Down.
Camilla met with the founder of the centre, June Burgess, and heard about equine-assisted therapy.
She was informed about how the centre runs courses to help people to deal with stress, increase resilience and, for companies who send groups of staff, to promote team-building.
She was also told that many clients are veterans who are re-adjusting to civilian life and that during lockdown, June has also worked with many care workers.
The duchess then chatted with staff members and clients and took time to meet many of the horses which are kept at the centres.
Camilla also watched a demonstration in the lunging pen and saw a horse being shod before she left the centre.