The King and Queen were warmly greeted by his Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell KStJ, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman Stephen Ross, The High Sheriff of County Antrim, Mr Peter Mackie, DL, Chief Executive of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Mrs Jacqui Dixon MBE and Mr John Finucane MP.
Their Majesties were then met by over 150 children from local primary schools across the Borough who performed Invocation, a special hymn commissioned by the Council, written and composed by Dr Philip Hammond for the Coronation in collaboration with the Ulster Orchestra strings section and Northern Ireland Opera.
Following the official opening of the glorious gates to the Coronation Garden, the party embarked on their tour led by Garden designer Diarmuid Gavin. Their Majesties met the design and creative team behind the show-stopping garden, and a few of the CAFRE students who assisted with the some of the planting.
Their Majesties saw first-hand a bespoke Coronation Robe appointed by the Council and created by local textile artist Angela Turkington who was delighted to explain the design concept of the robe which had the support of 22 local primary schools. They also got the chance to speak with some of the school children who took part in the Microgreen Wildflower Planting project.
Their Majesties where then treated to a musical performance of dancing topiary and spinning conical trees, before making their way to the viewing balcony where they enjoyed magnificent views of the garden and Belfast Lough.
The King and Queen then spoke to representatives from local community groups who were instrumental with the Big Help Out and delivery of coronation events before meeting recipients of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary services and The King’s Award for Enterprise, as well as young people who have received The Duke of Edinburgh Bursary, and members of The Forget Me Notes - Dementia Choir.
Their Majesties met the Council’s Elected Members who supported the extensive programme to commemorate both the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, and the Coronation. To conclude their visit the King and Queen cut a special Coronation Cake before they were presented with a painting of the Coronation Garden by Antrim based artist Sorrel Wills and the Mayoress presented The Queen with flowers.
The royal couple then made their way outside to speak with the crowds of well-wishers waiting to catch a glimpse of the King and Queen.
Speaking after the visit the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman Stephen Ross said;
“It has been an honour and privilege to welcome His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen to the Coronation Garden. We are so very proud of the amazing Coronation Garden created to mark the momentous occasion of the first Coronation in 70 years. Our greatest hope when embarking upon this project was that a visit by The King and Queen would one day be possible.”
Read more about the Coronation Garden here