The new Prince and Princess of Wales, both 40, jetted in on Thursday for the one-day trip, their first visit to the country since the death of Queen Elizabeth.
The couple was there to visit cross-community organizations that help support people from all backgrounds. They began their visit to PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland (PIPS Charity) in Belfast, which provides crisis support for those at risk of suicide and self-harm.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, PIPS has seen a significant rise in those reaching out for help, including an increase of over 500% among young people. Children are helped through art therapy, and William and Kate joined with volunteer counselors in packing up the charity's "Little Boxes of Hope" care packages that are given to children following their time with the charity to aid their recovery and ensure that their parents and guardians feel better equipped to cope.
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The couple spoke to charity staff and counselors about the life-saving work, including how it has striven to remove barriers to support those experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Some initiatives are its "no appointment needed" service and work to train reception staff to help members of the public in distress. Prince William and Kate also met with one of the charity's clients who will speak about their personal challenges and how PIPS is helping to overcome these.
Prince William and Kate then headed to Trademarket, an outdoor street food and retail market situated in the heart of Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. There, they tried their hand at mixology, competing against each other to see who could be the fastest to create a cocktail.
Working from separate stations, the royals quickly poured and shook the spirits, reuniting to toast — and sip! — the mint-garnished pink drinks.
Phil Noble - Pool/Getty Images Kate Middleton
Local entrepreneur Will Neill set up the market to create a vibrant, welcoming and diverse site which would allow new businesses from different backgrounds to work alongside each other. After competing in the cocktail contest, the Prince and Princess of Wales chatted with vendors and heard about the measures that have been put in place to ensure the site is both ethically and environmentally sustainable, such as removing single-use plastics and a commitment to paying staff a living wage.
They also met some locals, including a pair of dogs who got some pets from the Prince of Wales. At home, Kate and William have a cocker spaniel named Orla.
PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Prince William
William and Kate's last port of call on Thursday was to Carrickfergus, about 12 miles from Belfast. They chatted with mentors and youths at a charity called Carrick Connect, which helps teens who face emotional or social difficulties. They heard about Carrick Connect's mentoring service that helps young people develop strategies for coping with life. Earlier this year, the charity launched the new "Feel Good Hub," a project designed, organized and driven by young people aged 18-25 to promote physical and mental well-being.
Afterward, the couple — who were given the titles the Baron and Lady of Carrickfergus by the late Queen Elizabeth on their wedding day in 2011 — walked along the town's seafront to meet locals.
After shaking hands with the royals, a boy proclaimed, "I'm never washing my hand!" His friends excitedly agreed, with one saying, "No one touch my hand!"
Liam McBurney - Pool/Getty Images Prince William and Kate Middleton
The visit comes on the back of a busy period for the couple since royal mourning ended on Sept. 27. They marked that day with a trip to Anglesey and Swansea — their first visit to Wales since being named Prince and Princess of Wales by King Charles III a day after the death of Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 8.
Charles McQuillan/Getty Kate Middleton and Prince William
This week, William and Kate have been emphasizing that despite their new titles and change in status in the ranks of the royal family, they are very much continuing their ongoing work in key areas.
On Tuesday, William made a forceful speech about the scourge of illegal wildlife poaching and trade.
On Wednesday Kate continued her work for the early years and young families by meeting with medical professionals and parents at a maternity unit in a hospital just south of London. Meanwhile, Prince William spent part of Wednesday showing his support for grassroots soccer as he heralded the 10th anniversary of the Football Association's center of excellence and training at St. George's Park.
Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate's visit to Northern Ireland follows that of the King and Queen Camilla, who headed over the Irish Sea to Belfast in the early days of his new reign. It was part of Charles' mission to tour all four nations of the U.K. soon after his mother's death.
Then, Charles, 73, and Camilla, 75, started their day at Hillsborough Castle, where they viewed the flowers, notes and other tributes left in honor of the late Queen and also chatted with well-wishers who gathered outside the castle.
Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images Prince William and Kate Middleton
King Charles used the opportunity to talk about how his late mother had helped heal the historical and deep divisions that had brought violence and terrorism to Northern Ireland.
"My mother felt deeply, I know, the significance of the role she herself played in bringing together those whom history had separated, and in extending a hand to make possible the healing of long-held hurts," he said.