Prince William and Kate visit Empire bar during NI trip

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have closed the first day of their visit to Northern Ireland at a party in a Belfast bar.

The couple mingled with young people who are making a difference in Northern Ireland at the Empire Music Hall.

The focus of this Royal visit is very much on children and young people.

Earlier, Prince William and Catherine visited Windsor Park stadium where they showcased their football skills.

They also met Northern Ireland football manager Michael O’Neill and former Northern Ireland, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Pat Jennings.

The duke and duchess last visited Northern Ireland in 2016.

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of people lined the streets to greet the couple and cheered when they waved back at them.

Meanwhile inside the music hall, numerous members of the arts, business and sporting community eagerly waited to meet the Royals.

‘A brighter future’

During the informal party, Prince William made a speech about the “many inspirational young leaders” he and Catherine had met on their visit.

“From using sport to encourage people to talk openly about mental health, to delivering services to children and young people who are at risk of entering care,” he said.

“The work you do transcends community and is helping deliver a brighter future for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Prince William also paid tribute to Dame Mary Peters, who he called “one of the United Kingdom’s sporting legends”.

“Mary has also inspired generation after generation to come together in times of trouble and work for the common good – a lesson I hope many of us can learn from,” he added.

His comments came as Dame Mary was appointed Lady Companion of the Most Noble of the Garter by The Queen.

Prior to the event, the pair joined in a kickabout with young children at the home of Northern Ireland and Linfield.

Windsor stadium is also home to the Irish Football Association, which runs programmes to encourage young girls to play the sport and to support clubs dealing with mental health issues.

On the Windsor Park turf, the duke and duchess both had a go at dribbling drills, to the delight of the young footballers.

Catherine ran around a marked-out square, keeping the ball under control, and also jogged up and down on the spot.

At one point, the duchess hugged and comforted nine-year-old Jasmine Andrews after she became emotional about the occasion.

Jasmine, a pupil at Fane Street primary school, later revealed how Catherine had made her smile through the tears.

She said: “I got a little bit nervous and started to cry and she asked me was I a little bit shy, and I said ‘I am’, and she said that she used to be shy when she was little too.”

They then travelled on to County Fermanagh to see the Roscor Youth Village, a residential centre for children referred by social workers.

The Duke and Duchess will return to Belfast to attend a party celebrating inspirational young people at the city’s Empire Music Hall.

It is the couple’s third visit to Northern Ireland, as well as their visit in 2016 they also came in┬áMarch 2011, in the run-up to their wedding.

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