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The reason Prince William and Kate's Northern Ireland visit was kept secret

It was a surprise appearance

Fiona Ward

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kicked off a royal visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday – but it came as a complete surprise to the public, who are usually informed of official engagements in advance via a Kensington Palace release. The two-day tour was in fact kept under wraps for security reasons, and details of the royal couple's planned activities were not released until the day of the visit. Royal visits to Northern Ireland are usually not announced in advance because of sensitivity and security concerns relating to the background of The Troubles. That doesn't mean fans weren't quick to turn out once they'd heard news of William and Kate's arrival, however, since there was a good crowd waiting as they stepped from their car!

Kate and William were received with a warm welcome despite their unannounced arrival

Day one of the pair's trip had a strong focus on the positive impact that sport, nature and the outdoors can have on childhood development, and improved physical and mental health for all. William and Kate started with a visit to Windsor Park, where they learnt about the Irish Football Association's community Football projects, and how sport can play a role in bringing communities together. The royals then travelled to County Fermanagh where they visited a youth centre, before returning to the capital for a party at the iconic Belfast Empire Hall.

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Kate looked stunning for the evening occasion, changing out of her casualwear from earlier in the day to wear a shimmering mint green Missoni midi dress – teamed with a neutral Mulberry clutch and matching heels. Adorably, the couple even had a go at pulling pints at the bar, with Kate pulling some hilarious faces as she attempted to pull the perfect glass-ful.

The couple had lots of fun in Belfast!

The royal couple have another busy day ahead of them on Thursday, which will see them travel to Ballymena for a number of engagements before returning home. After a week off to enjoy the half term break with children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, it's back to a busy schedule for William and Kate, who are also set to visit Blackpool on Wednesday 6 March – no secrets this time!

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