Friday, 27 April 2012

Royal Visit to St George's

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall yesterday visited St George's Church, High Street, Belfast.

St George's dates from about 1816.

I paid a visit to St George's myself in 2011.

When His Royal Highness visited the Church twenty-one years ago it was in a perilous condition due to the bombs and trouble that the city had endured. Ambitious plans for its restoration commenced and are now virtually completed.

Moving inside the Church and accompanied by the rector, the Rev Brian Stewart, and Rev William Odling-Smee, Honorary Assistant Priest.

The royal couple were met at the entrance to the church by the First Minister, the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, as well as the Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters DBE.

During their hour-long stay, TRH met members of the church congregation and those involved in the ongoing restoration, while they also heard a performance by the church choir.

The Rev Brian Stewart presented TRH with Church of Ireland prayer books, published in both English and Irish.

He said.
“The last time you [Prince Charles] were here in 1991, you saw the scars of the Troubles on the church building.Today, I am sure you see many changes. Northern Ireland has undergone a transformation and this church is a reflection of that.”
Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE DL, from the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, said she was “delighted” to see the royal couple at the Belfast church:
“There were three key areas of interest for the Prince on this visit here to St George’s: architecture, the wonderful music from the choir, and the work of all the groups involved with the church,” she said.
“This little church, which you could almost miss, is right at the heart of Belfast city centre. It is a wonderful church which reaches right across the community and plays such an important role in so many people’s life.
“It stands as a shining symbol of the progress this city has made; it is truly one of the glories of Belfast.
“Today’s Royal visit has been a tremendous success. It’s a great day for St George’s and another great day for Belfast,” she added.
For 17-year-old Jamie Pawson yesterday’s visit was a poignant occasion.
“This is my last engagement as the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet, so it is a bit special,” said Jamie.
“This is my second time meeting Prince Charles and Camilla; the last time was at Buckingham Palace.
“It has been a great privilege to be the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the last year. I have been able to meet some great people and they are experiences which I will always remember."

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