Queen and Prince Philip visit Game of Thrones film set

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh met members of the cast and crew on a visit to the set

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The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have met cast and production members from Game of Thrones during a tour of the Paint Hall Studios in Belfast.

The US television series is partly filmed in the city's Titanic Quarter, and is a focal point for Northern Ireland's burgeoning film industry.

The Royal couple began their second day of engagements at Crumlin Road Gaol in north Belfast.

They are on a three-day visit to Northern Ireland.

The Queen was shown some of the props and costumes which feature in the fantasy series during her visit to the Paint Hall Studios The Queen was shown some of the props and costumes that feature in the fantasy series during her visit to the Paint Hall Studios
The Royal couple got a chance to see some of the costumes from Game of Thrones at close quarters The Royal couple got a chance to see some of the costumes from Game of Thrones at close quarters
The Queen was presented with a miniature version of the Iron Throne, which features in Game of Thrones, before leaving The Queen was presented with a miniature version of the Iron Throne, which features in Game of Thrones, before leaving

As well as meeting cast and production staff, the Royal couple were also given a short overview of the series and the impact it has had on Northern Ireland, not only in terms of employment, but also in the creative arts field.

Analysis

It is not just the fact that the Queen has been shown around Crumlin Road Gaol by former inmates, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, that makes this yet another symbolic stop.

It is her willingness and determination to visit one of the toughest parts of town, a stone's throw from Ardoyne and the Shankill, areas which have had to endure much of the residual violence of the troubles.

In previous years such a tour would have presented a logistical and security headache, but there is now evident confidence on the part of the PSNI.

Crumlin Road Gaol and its underground tunnel through which tens of thousands of republican and loyalist prisoners were marched between the Crown Court and their cells, is a harsh reminder of the conflict.

However, its transformation into one of the most popular visitor attractions in the city, shows that there are now fewer areas out-of-bounds, even to the Queen.

The Queen and Prince Philip also viewed some of the props that have featured in the hit fantasy show.

Before leaving, they were presented with a miniature version of the infamous Iron Throne, which appears in the series.

Earlier, they were greeted as they arrived at the Crumlin Road jail by members of the public waving union flags.

Inside, the Royal couple were met by a number of dignitaries, including Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The Queen and Prince Philip were accompanied on a tour of C wing by Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness.

Both politicians were held at the former prison during the Troubles.

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander, was held in the prison for more than a month in 1976 on a charge of IRA membership - a charge that was later dropped in court.

Popular attraction

Democratic Unionist Party leader and First Minister Peter Robinson was detained on a number of occasions in the prison during the 1980s for his involvement in protests against the controversial Anglo Irish Agreement.

Members of the public carrying Union flags waited outside the jail for the Queen to arrive Members of the public carrying union flags waited outside the jail for the Queen to arrive
The Queen and Prince Philip were accompanied on a tour of C wing by Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness The Queen and Prince Philip were accompanied on a tour of C wing by Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness
The Queen arrives at Crumlin Road Gaol The Queen's lemon outfit and hat were designed by her dressmaker Angela Kelly

The jail, which closed in 1996, is now a popular visitor attraction.

The next stop on the Royal couple's 21st visit to Northern Ireland was St George's Market, where they experienced a one-off event billed as celebrating the "best of Belfast".

The market is usually open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but the special opening was held to celebrate it recently winning the title of best large indoor market in the United Kingdom.

The Queen shared a joke with a trader during her visit to the market The Queen shared a joke with a trader during her visit to the market
The Queen met some of the traders during her visit to St George's Market The Queen met some of the traders during her visit to St George's Market

The market was open to the public.

The Victorian market building underwent a £4.5m refurbishment in 1997 and has become one of the most popular attractions in Belfast.

It houses 170 traders, six shops, a restaurant, and sustains 385 jobs.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh then travelled to the nearby Belfast City Hall for a lunch hosted by the city's Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon.

The Queen was welcomed to the city hall by Belfast's Lord Mayor Nicola Mallon The Queen was welcomed to the city hall by Belfast's Lord Mayor Nicola Mallon
The Queen told guests at Belfast City Hall that Northern Ireland had turned the "impossible into the possible" The Queen told guests during the lunch that Northern Ireland had turned the "impossible into the possible"
Guests at the city hall dined on Ulster beef on a bed of Comber potatoes with spinach, mushrooms, a pastry fleuron and a rich Madeira sauce Guests at the city hall dined on Ulster beef on a bed of Comber potatoes with spinach, mushrooms, a pastry fleuron and a rich Madeira sauce

Representatives of communities and groups across the city were among those attending.

Ms Mallon welcomed the Queen with an opening greeting in the Irish language.

'Historic venue'

She told Her Majesty her heart was "bursting with pride" for her city.

The Queen told the assembled guests it was the first time in nearly half a century that she had returned to the "historic and beautiful" venue.

She said much had been learned in that period and said Northern Ireland had turned the "impossible into the possible".

After leaving city hall the Royal couple made their way to Hillsborough Castle for their final engagement on Tuesday.

The Queen was accompanied by Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to the garden party at Hillsborough Castle The Queen was accompanied by Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to the garden party at Hillsborough Castle
Prince Philip met the deputy mayor of Lisburn Andrew Ewing at the garden party Prince Philip met the deputy mayor of Lisburn, Andrew Ewing, at the garden party
The Queen planted a tree in the grounds of Hillsborough Castle to commemorate her visit The Queen planted a tree in the grounds of Hillsborough Castle to commemorate her visit

The Queen and Prince Philip attended a garden party in the castle grounds, which is the Queen's official residence in Northern Ireland.

The Royal couple visited the rose gardens in the grounds and also met a number of PSNI officers and military personnel, as well as members from Co-Operation Ireland.

The Queen planted a tree to commemorate her visit.

More than 2,000 guests attended from a wide cross-section of the community, including voluntary and sporting groups, charitable organisations as well as local people who play an integral part in their communities.

Their visit began on Monday evening in the same venue.

The Queen's first engagement was separate private meetings with Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness.

'Hand of friendship'

It was the third meeting between the Queen and Mr McGuinness but their first one-to-one encounter.

After meeting on Monday evening, Mr McGuinness said it was "about reaching out the hand of friendship to the unionist community".

Meanwhile, Prince Philip met about 75 recipients of the Duke of Edinburgh gold awards.

Prince Philip met Duke of Edinburgh gold award winners Prince Philip met Duke of Edinburgh gold award winners at Hillsborough Castle
Theresa Villiers had an audience with the Queen at Hillsborough Castle Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers had an audience with the Queen at Hillsborough Castle

It is the Queen's first visit to Northern Ireland since 2012, when she came as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

In the past, details of Royal visits to Northern Ireland have not been announced beforehand for security reasons, but this time around, much of their itinerary has been made public.

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