The Royal couple, who also carry the title Baron and Baroness Carrickfergus, greeted well-wishers in front of the town’s historic castle, where people of all ages began gathering from early morning to catch a glimpse of them.
During their first visit to Carrickfergus, William and Kate met representatives of Carrick Connect, where they were given an insight into the crucial work of the charity which provides vital mentoring and outreach support to young people within the local community.
Formed in 2014, Carrick Connect’s significant contribution to the area was recognised earlier this year when it was honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The town has strong links to the Royal Family and the castle provided the backdrop for the couple to meet with local dignitaries, including the Mayor, Mayoress and interim chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, along with the High Sheriff of County Antrim, and for the presentation of a special gift to the Prince and Princess on behalf of the borough.
Today’s visit came more than 60 years after the 1961 arrival of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Carrickfergus during a tour of Northern Ireland.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said: “It was a huge honour to welcome the Prince and Princess to my hometown of Carrickfergus, and the response and joy of residents who came out in their droves is testament to the warmth and respect for our Royal Family here.
“Our strong links to the Royal Family and to their Royal Highnesses specifically are well documented – indeed we have a road named Prince William Way - and today was an event we will reflect on fondly for many years to come.
“Personally, as an RAF veteran and Wing Commander within the service, I also enjoyed conversing with Prince William, who himself was a skilled RAF search and rescue pilot, about our military pasts.
“I am so pleased Carrick Connect was recognised by the Royal couple for their commitment to our community and the transformational impact their initiatives have on the lives of so many young people in our Borough.
“I commend the volunteers for that work and on behalf of the citizens of Mid and East Antrim I thank our Prince and Princess for their time today and for their continued service and dedication to their roles.”
As a memento of their visit, the couple were presented by the Mayoress with a very special gift. Local craftswoman Colleen Douglas produces unique pieces from sea glass washed up on the shore and fashions glass and wire sculptures, with one of her trademark pieces being the Tree of Life.
Colleen regularly scans the beaches around Carrick Castle, Scotch Quarter and Boneybefore for washed glass fragments. The glass used is in the natural state she finds it on the shore – “polished by the sea” as Colleen says.
The borough commissioned Colleen to create a ‘Family Tree’ for The Prince and Princess which has green glass, alongside three red pieces of glass to represent apples on the tree. These apples are intended to symbolise the Royal couple’s children - Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.