Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are in Trinity today to visit the Book of Kells on their two-day visit to Dublin. The trip marks the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first official engagement as a married couple since their wedding on May 19.
Markle and Prince Harry’s visit to Trinity has attracted significant excitement in advance of their visit. Large crowds gathered in Front Square since early this morning to await the couple’s arrival.
Speaking to Trinity News, Librarian and College Archivist Helen Shenton said she was “very pleased to be welcoming the Royal Couple to the Library”.
“They’ll be making the same visit to see the Book of Kells and the beautiful Long Room, seven years after the historically significant visit by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 2011,” explained Shenton.
Trinity staff member Bernie Cunningham waited in the crowd this morning for the Duke and Duchess. She brought along a photograph to show the couple of her meeting Queen Elizabeth II during Her Majesty’s visit to Trinity. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry’s grandmother, visited Trinity in 2011. Trinity staff members, including Cunningham, had the opportunity to greet the Queen on her visit seven years ago, with many returning today to meet Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The Duke and Duchess’ visit to the Book of Kells is part of their two-day trip to Ireland. The couple arrived at Dublin airport yesterday afternoon. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed them to Government Buildings on Merrion Street, where he gave the couple a tour of his offices and conducted a private meeting with them.
Later in the evening, Markle and Prince Harry attended a reception at Glencairn where they were welcomed by Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Speaking at the reception, Prince Harry told the crowd: “We’re so pleased to be here, for our first official international visit together as a married couple, and we hope it will be the first of many.”
The couple met with President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this morning. They continued on to Croke Park to walk on the pitch before their visit to the Book of Kells. They are expected to round off their trip to Dublin with a visit to EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, later today.
This trip marks Prince Harry’s first to Ireland. Markle previously visited Dublin in 2013 when she received the Bram Stoker Medal from the University Philosophical Society (the Phil) in Trinity.
The couple’s visit to the capital was confirmed last month in a statement from the official Twitter account of Kensington Palace, which read: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit Dublin, Ireland on 10th & 11th July. The visit is at the request of Her Majesty’s Government.”
The statement went on to say that the pair were “looking forward to learning more about Ireland’s history and experiencing its rich culture, as well as meeting the people who are shaping the country’s future.”
Security measures were implemented on campus in advance of the royal couple’s visit to Trinity. John Coman, Secretary to the College, alerted students and staff in an email on Monday that they would need to carry up-to-date photographic identification with them on campus today due to the royal visit. Coman notified students and staff that access to certain areas, particularly Front Square, would also be restricted.
“The Front Gate will be closed and those who regularly use this entrance are asked to enter through the Nassau Street entrance. There will be a Garda presence on that gate and ID will be checked before entry,” Coman explained.
He anticipated a “significant increase in footfall on the Front Square” today and asked staff and students to “refrain from locking bikes to the chains around the green areas on the Front Square and the Library Square”.