Prince Harry arrives in Northern Ireland this morning to visit Ballymena, Belfast and Hillsborough. During this, his first visit to Northern Ireland, the Prince will meet people from across the region, with a focus on the emergency services and young people.
Prince Harry will first visit Ballymena, where he will open the new Northern Ireland Ambulance Service station which combines Ballymena Ambulance Station and North Division Headquarters. The Prince will get a briefing from the design team behind the new £5.6 million facility before watching a demonstration of the station's resources, including the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) capability, Emergency Resilience, and Training Team. He will see some of the vehicles and ambulances that operate out of the station, and see a demonstration of Paramedic skills before touring the building to view the facilities available to staff. Prince Harry will also take the opportunity to meet some of the staff and crews, to learn about their work in the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, before unveiling a plaque to officially open the station and commemorate his visit.
Prince Harry will then head to Belfast to visit Co-operation Ireland, a peacebuilding organisation working to encourage and promote interaction, dialogue and practical collaboration within Northern Ireland and between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Prince Harry will meet with a range of youth organisations from across Northern Ireland brought together by Co-operation Ireland and will hear how each group is working with young people to promote cross-community links, bringing young people together who would otherwise not meet, and encourage young leaders to positively engage with their communities. Prince Harry will hear about two programmes in particular – the NI National Citizenship Service and the Amazing the Space programmes. The event will conclude with young people from schools across Northern Ireland sharing their school’s Peace Pledge with Prince Harry to launch Year 2 of the youth-led Amazing the Space programme. The event is being hosted at The MAC in Belfast's vibrant new Cathedral Quarter where afterwards Prince Harry hopes to have the chance to meet members of the public outside at St Anne's Square.
His Royal Highness will complete his day in Northern Ireland by attending a Garden Party at Hillsborough Castle. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has hosted this event annually since 1984. Around 2,000 guests are invited each year, drawn from a wide cross-section of Northern Ireland society, including the voluntary and community sectors, local charities, youth organisations and wider civil society. Hillsborough Castle is the official residence of the Royal Family when they are in Northern Ireland, and the home of the Secretary of State since the early 1970s. A Royal Guest of Honour attends each year, and in recent years this event has been attended by The Duke of York in 2012, The Earl of Wessex in 2013, HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh during their visit to Northern Ireland in 2014, The Earl and Countess of Wessex in 2015 and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2016.