Warm welcome awaits William 25 years after his father’s Royal visit to the Royal County

Warm welcome awaits William 25 years after his father’s Royal visit to the Royal County

The Royal County of Meath will give a warm welcome to British Royals, William and Kate when they arrive in Meath tomorrow to visit the Teagasc Beef Research Centre in Grange.

Meath is no stranger to royal visits and has played host to many, such as the former Spanish King, Juan Carlos, Queen Sonja of Norway and former Japanese Emperor, Akithito, when he was Crown Prince.
There was tight security and huge excitement around Newgrange and Trim, 25 years ago when Prince William's father Prince Charles visited Newgrange and the Butterstream Gardens in Trim, as part of a highly significant visit to Ireland.
When William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Meath tomorrow (Wednesday) amid stringent security, many will be recalling the visit by his father which was seen at the time as a ringing endorsement of the peace process.
The Prince of Wales received a warm welcome to Meath 25 years ago and despite massive security arrangements involving hundreds of gardai and army personnel, he broke from his schedule to meet and chat with local people.
The heir to the British throne spent more than two hours in Meath at the time, visiting Newgrange and Butterstream Gardens, both of which he had specifically asked to see.
An extremely tight security cordon around the burial ground at Newgrange ensured that only those with passes were allowed through with roads sealed off and diversions in place all around.
There had been a series of planning meetings involving senior gardai for weeks before his arrival and for the entire visit he was followed by bus loads of the world's media as hundreds of journalists, photographers and television crews recorded the historic event.  
When his helicopter touched down at Newgrange on 1st June 1995, Prince Charles was already 20 minutes behind schedule but when he departed he was almost two hours behind, having enjoyed the royal hospitality of Meath in the company of Taoiseach, John Bruton and his wife, Finola.
On his arrival at the megalithic tomb, a group of 30 or so local people who had braved the massive security presence cheered an enthusiastic welcome.
He was officially welcomed to Newgrange by the late Mrs Ann Redhouse, owner of Newgrange Farm, her daughter, Tara and the farm's chief guide, Deirdre Comiskey.
The prince then immediately broke the carefully laid plans of the civil service and gardai to greet the enthusiastic locals who were brandishing a big banner welcoming the prince to Newgrange.
After chatting with the local people he continued over to the national monument where chief guide, Claire Tuffy, took him on a tour of the passage tomb including the inner chamber where she extinguished the light to show him a simulation of the Winter Solstice when the early morning sun floods the ancient tomb with light.
Prince Charles told her he was fascinated by ancient places and religions and he even asked to get on the waiting list to see the real phenomenon at the Winter Solstice.
After his tour of the monument, he was presented by Professor Michael Kelly's book 'Art, Archaeology and Legend.
He then signed the visitors book  'Charles, 1st June 1995' before returning to board his waiting helicopter.
One of those who spoke to him at Newgrange was local schoolboy, Anthony Mullen, who asked for a ride in the royal helicopter.
Hiding a smile, the Prince confided that Anthony probably wouldn't want to go where he was going, and advised him instead to ask the Taoiseach for a spin in his.
Meanwhile, a crowd of about 400 people had gathered outside Butterstream Gardens in the hope of getting a glimpse of the Royal visitor.
While the people of Newgrange were used to royal visitors, it was something than only happened in Trim every couple of centuries, and the crowds were anxious to see the prince.
His helicopter landed in a field adjacent to Butterstream, where he was met by owner, Jim Reynolds who brought him on a walk around the gardens.
As he passed the front gate, he saw the crowds and again broke from protocol to go and talk to them.
He showed great interest in the various plants and flowers in the gardens and spoke about his own organic farm. He noted both his garden and Butterstream had similar alkaline soils and could not grow rhododendrons.
The garden walk was followed by tea on the summerhouse lawn with the food provided by Darina Allen, a friend of Jim Reynolds.
The goodies included raspberry tartlets made with organic raspberries from the garden.
With tea finished, the Prince took off again in his helicopter to finish his Irish visit back in Dublin.

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