Will and Kate pull pints of Harp to round off Belfast visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ended the first day of their visit to Northern Ireland by having relaxed conversations and pulling pints in Belfast.

William and Kate were greeted at the Empire Music Hall by cheering crowds on Wednesday evening.

Inside the venue they enjoyed musical and comedy acts, met Olympian Dame Mary Peters and spoke to a number of inspirational young people

It came at the end of a busy day for the royal couple who took part in engagements across the region, starting with a visit to the home of Northern Ireland football, Windsor Park in Belfast, where they took part in a kickabout with youngsters.

Later in Co Fermanagh children cheered the Duke and Duchess as they went head to head in a canoeing race on Lough Erne.

There were more laughs in Belfast on Wednesday evening as William and Kate took turns pulling pints of lager at the Empire Music Hall.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave after a visit to the Empire Music Hall (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave after a visit to the Empire Music Hall (Liam McBurney/PA)

William appeared to take the challenge seriously, tilting the pint glass and watching the tap intently before exclaiming “look at that bad boy” as he admired his work, and added: “Perfect – good enough for an advert.”

In a brief speech at the event, he paid tribute to Dame Mary, who was earlier appointed to the Royal Order of the Garter, and said it was “fitting” recognition for the Olympian who he said had “helped inspire so many of you in the first place”.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The children involved said the royal couple’s football skills were impressive (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
The children involved said the royal couple’s football skills were impressive (Liam McBurney/PA)

On the Windsor Park turf, the duke and duchess both had a go at dribbling drills, to the delight of the young footballers.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The couple’s ball skills were also put to the test (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
The couple’s ball skills were also put to the test (Liam McBurney/PA)

Kate ran around a marked-out square, keeping the ball under control, and also jogged up and down on the spot.

At one point, the duchess hugged and comforted nine-year-old Jasmine Andrews after she became emotional about the occasion.

Jasmine, a pupil at Fane Street primary school, later said Kate had made her smile through the tears.

She said: “I got a little bit nervous and started to cry and she asked me was I a little bit shy, and I said ‘I am’, and she said that she used to be shy when she was little too.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Kate comforts Jasmine Andrews after the youngster became overwhelmed by the occasion (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
Kate comforts Jasmine Andrews after the youngster became overwhelmed by the occasion (Liam McBurney/PA)

Igor Lackis, nine, said he had been impressed by the couple’s footballing skills.

“We were playing a football match together and they were pretty good, both of them were really good,” he said.

“I blocked the prince’s shots attempting to score.”

During their tour of the venue, the couple also met Northern Ireland footballing great Pat Jennings.

The former Tottenham and Arsenal goalkeeper is Northern Ireland’s record caps holder, with 119 appearances during a career that took in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

William and Kate were shown a bronze cast print of the stopper’s celebrated “safe hands” as they walked through the stadium’s heritage centre.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>William put his hands in the cast of Pat Jennings, watched by the former goalkeeper, centre (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
William put his hands in the cast of Pat Jennings, watched by the former goalkeeper, centre (Liam McBurney/PA)

As William extended his arm to shake Jennings’s hand, he said: “Now there’s a man who needs no introduction.”

William later put his own hands in the print, remarking to the record-breaking keeper: “You have really long fingers.”

Afterwards, Jennings praised the couple’s attitude.

“They are a special couple,” he said. “To come and do what they did today, entertained us and the kids.

“They have given not only us but the kids a day that they will never forget.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The couple were given a tour of the stadium by Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
The couple were given a tour of the stadium by Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)

Current Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill accompanied the couple on their tour of the venue.

The national manager praised William’s football knowledge but joked that he should not count on his beloved Aston Villa making a return to the top of English football just yet.

During the visit, the couple learned more about the Irish Football Association’s community football projects and its work breaking down some of Northern Ireland’s traditional divides through sport.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The couple were given a T-shirt for each of their three children (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
The couple were given a T-shirt for each of their three children (Liam McBurney/PA)

As they left the stadium at the end of the visit, three schoolchildren presented the couple with three green Northern Ireland home shirts, with the names of their children George, Charlotte and Louis on the backs.

Later they were greeted by cheering children as they arrived at an outdoor activity centre in Co Fermanagh.

On a day of competition for them, at the Roscor Youth Village Kate and William went head to head in a canoeing race on Lough Erne.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Kate chatted to the young girls taking part in the coaching session (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
Kate chatted to the young girls taking part in the coaching session (Liam McBurney/PA)

They were part of two teams which raced in Canadian canoes, with William’s boat crowned the winner, reaching the marker a few seconds ahead of Kate’s.

On the visit to the centre, which is run by the charity Extern, Kate also helped assemble a tent before taking part in a game of archery.

The duchess missed her first shot, but with some tips from the children hit the target on her second attempt.

Meanwhile, William’s balance was tested as he walked across a low-ropes assault course.

Children urged him on until he made it to the end and they celebrated with a cheer.

- Press Association

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