The historic headquarters of the Royal Black Institution in Co Armagh created an impressive backdrop for a visit by the Prince of Wales, who has a keen eye for fine architecture, on Wednesday.
Hosted by senior members of both the Black and the Orange Order, the Royal visitor met a number Ulster-Scots enthusiasts and enjoyed a joint performance of both Ulster-Scots and Irish dancing.
Among a number of gifts presented to Prince Charles was a book of first Bible stories for his latest grandchild Archie, the son of Harry and Meghan, and a collection of Bible verses specially selected for new mothers. The books were presented to Charles by Royal Black Grand Chaplain Rev Nigel Reid.
Rev William Anderson, sovereign grand master of the Royal Black, said it was a special day.
“It’s been a fantastic day in a beautiful showcase building. He would have appreciated the architecture, and we appreciate him coming to see us,” he said.
Rev Anderson also said the visit was an important opportunity to show the excellent cross-community relations in the area.
While being introduced to the loyal order members, Prince Charles commended Rev Anderson on the £780,500 raised for local charities by the institution.
In keeping with the cross-community theme, a joint choir and musicians from St Ronan’s and Lurgan College performed two pieces of music.
The prince spent time speaking with the children afterwards, complimenting them on an impressive performance.
As well as admiring the architecture within Brownlow House, the Royal visitor was drawn to the solid silver Molyneaux Mace – commissioned by the Royal Black to mark the retirement of the late Ulster Unionist leader Jim Molyneaux.
“As well as fine architecture, he is very interested in long-standing traditions, and was quite taken with the Molyneaux Mace,” Rev Anderson said.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart introduced the prince to his two-week old namesake, baby Charlie.
“Little Charlie arrived quite hastily during the election count just over two weeks ago. The prince was inquiring after him and it was just such an honour.
“It was a great opportunity for Lurgan and Brownlow House.”
The Brownlow House visit rounded off a busy day of engagements for both Charles and Camilla that included Belfast city centre and the site of the Primark fire, the Welcome Organisation, the Belfast synagogue, and Grand Central Hotel.
On Tuesday the Royal visitors also attended a garden party at Castle Coole in Co Fermanagh and met community volunteers in Lisnaskea.
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