Northern Ireland to get first ‘Royal’ town as part of Union charm offensive

Northern Ireland is to have its first town granted royal status as part of a Union charm offensive following Brexit. 

The Government said Hillsborough in County Down, home to the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland, will become Royal Hillsborough later this year.

It will become the first town or village in the region to be given a royal prefix.

A Government source told The Telegraph that its Northern Ireland Office “supported the application of the local council for royal status for Hillsborough, which is then decided by the Palace”. 

They added that it was a “fair assumption” to describe the move as part of Westminster’s Union charm offensive. Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council made an application for the Royal prefix. 

The council’s Mayor, Nicholas Trimble, said: “This is a historic day for Hillsborough, for Northern Ireland and for the UK. Hillsborough has for a long time been a jewel in our local crown. 

“We are delighted that our application has been successful.” 

Laura McCorry, head of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, added: “This very welcome news will provide a much-needed boost for tourism in Hillsborough, after a challenging year for the entire industry.

“Hillsborough is a truly remarkable place, with so much to offer visitors”. The Queen and other members of the royal family stay at Hillsborough Castle when visiting Northern Ireland. 

Brandon Lewis,  Secretary of State, said: “This is fantastic news for the village of Hillsborough, a truly wonderful place that deserves this special honour. 

“The village’s royal status reflects the beauty of Hillsborough as well as its unique history and close connections to the royal family through Hillsborough Castle.” 

The Prime Minister can make a direct request for a place to have royal status, or the place can apply to the Government. 

Greenwich, in south east London, became a Royal Borough in 2012 in recognition of its close links to royalty since the Middle Ages. King Henry VIII was one of the monarchs born there. 

A year earlier, the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett was granted royal status in commendation for residents’ unfailing support of the Armed Forces.

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