Northern Ireland

Queen and Prince Philip visit Game of Thrones film set

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

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.

Image caption The Queen was shown some of the props and costumes that feature in the fantasy series during her visit to the Paint Hall Studios
Image caption The Royal couple got a chance to see some of the costumes from Game of Thrones at close quarters
Image caption 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.

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.

Image caption Members of the public carrying union flags waited outside the jail for the Queen to arrive
Image caption The Queen and Prince Philip were accompanied on a tour of C wing by Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness
Image caption 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.

Image caption The Queen shared a joke with a trader during her visit to the market
Image caption 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.

Image caption The Queen was welcomed to the city hall by Belfast's Lord Mayor Nicola Mallon
Image caption The Queen told guests during the lunch that Northern Ireland had turned the "impossible into the possible"
Image caption 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.

Image caption The Queen was accompanied by Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to the garden party at Hillsborough Castle
Image caption Prince Philip met the deputy mayor of Lisburn, Andrew Ewing, at the garden party
Image caption 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.

Image caption Prince Philip met Duke of Edinburgh gold award winners at Hillsborough Castle
Image caption 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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