On arrival the Royal Couple were greeted by Dr Alasdair McDonnell, MP for South Belfast, and Councillor Nichola Mallon, Lord Mayor of Belfast. Moving into the main market area, The Royal Couple were presented to Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive Designate and John McGrillen, Director of Development, who gave an overview and history of the market. Her Majesty and HRH were invited to undertake a short tour of the many diverse stalls in this speciality market.
St George’s Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions. It was built between 1890 and 1896 and is one of the best known markets in the UK and Ireland. It has been selected for numerous local and national titles and awards for its fresh local produce and great atmosphere. It holds a weekly Friday Variety Market, the City Food and Craft Market on Saturdays and the Sunday Market, which is a mixture of the Friday and Saturday markets. It also hosts a range of events throughout the year. It was named the UK’s best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the Association of British Market Authorities, beating-off stiff competition from internationally renowned markets like Spitalfields, Billingsgate and Borough.
The Royal Guests met stall holders and many exhibits, including Flax Fox, a local bespoke company who specialise in Irish Linen, Orabel Art Gallery, Itty Bitty Book Company, specialising in miniature books and Aunt Sandra’s Candy Shop which has been making sweets and candy in East Belfast since 1953. During the short tour the Royal Couple had the opportunity to experience the colour and warmth for which St George’s Market is famous, and were greeted by large crowds of well wishers who had gathered in the market for the special visitors.
Before departing, Pat Dyer, Chairperson of St George’s Branch of National Market Traders’ Federation, along with his grandson Jack Morgan presented the Royal Visitors with gifts – a hamper reflecting the ‘Best of Market’ local produce, and a t-shirt for Prince George which depicts Harland and Wolff’s twin gantry cranes, Samson and Goliath.