Kate Middleton and Prince William arrive for surprise Belfast trip




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Sporty Kate was in her element as she and William kicked off a surprise two-day tour of Northern Ireland with a visit to a Belfast football stadium.

The Duchess of Cambridge, 37, couldn’t keep the smile from her face as she and her husband took to the pitch at Windsor Park for a kickabout with schoolchildren. 

Keen to join in on the fun, the Duchess ditched her £1,200 Carolina Herrara coat and heeled LK Bennett boots for a classic white cricket jumper and £80 Sweaty Betty x New Balance trainers. 

William and Kate playfully jostled with each other as they went head-to-head during the ball skills session, where the mother-of-three impressed with her dribbling. 

They were greeted outside the stadium by crowds of excited well-wishers. Kate was particularly taken with one smartly-dressed little boy she spotted in the crowd. The royal mother-of-three cooed over the spirited youngster and cracked a smile when he cheekily stuck out his tongue. 

The couple will spend Wednesday and Thursday carrying out a number of engagements in Belfast, Fermanagh and Ballymena. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went head-to-head as they joined youngsters for a game of football at Windsor Park

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went head-to-head as they joined youngsters for a game of football at Windsor Park

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went head-to-head as they joined youngsters for a game of football at Windsor Park

The Duchess of Cambridge swapped her black heeled booties for trainers as she joined children for a kickabout on the pitch

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived in Belfast for a surprise two-day visit to Northern Ireland. One adorable young well-wisher cheekily stuck out his tongue when the Duchess of Cambridge came over to meet him outside Windsor Park 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived in Belfast for a surprise two-day visit to Northern Ireland. One adorable young well-wisher cheekily stuck out his tongue when the Duchess of Cambridge came over to meet him outside Windsor Park 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived in Belfast for a surprise two-day visit to Northern Ireland. One adorable young well-wisher cheekily stuck out his tongue when the Duchess of Cambridge came over to meet him outside Windsor Park 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Northern Ireland for a surprise two-day tour

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Northern Ireland for a surprise two-day tour

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Belfast today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Belfast today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Northern Ireland for a surprise two-day tour. The couple are kicking off the tour with visit to Windsor Park football stadium, home of the Irish Football Association

Out on the Windsor Park turf, the royals joined in some training exercises with local schoolchildren.

Kate and William both had a go at dribbling drills, to the delight of the young footballers. Kate ran around a marked-out square keeping the ball under control and also jogged up and down on the spot.

She then joined William in a small-sided game, each playing on different sides.

Both participated with gusto, running about with their young teammates, passing and tackling during the well-spirited encounter.

During the visit, the couple learned more about the Irish Football Association’s community football projects and its work breaking down some of Northern Ireland’s traditional divides through sport.

The couple lost control of the ball

The couple lost control of the ball

Prompting the Duchess of Cambridge to burst into fits of laughter

Prompting the Duchess of Cambridge to burst into fits of laughter

The couple lost control of the ball, left, prompting the Duchess of Cambridge to burst into fits of laughter, right

Sporty Kate appeared perfectly at ease as she played around with youngsters on the turf at Belfast's Windsor Park

Sporty Kate appeared perfectly at ease as she played around with youngsters on the turf at Belfast's Windsor Park

Sporty Kate appeared perfectly at ease as she played around with youngsters on the turf at Belfast’s Windsor Park

Out on the Windsor Park turf, the royals joined in some training exercises with local schoolchildren

Out on the Windsor Park turf, the royals joined in some training exercises with local schoolchildren

Out on the Windsor Park turf, the royals joined in some training exercises with local schoolchildren

Kate donned a £159 Barbour jacket and £80 Sweaty Betty X New Balance trainers for the training session with kids

They met people involved in an initiative aimed at encouraging more women into key decision making roles within the game and also met young people involved in the Goal programme – a project designed for those not in employment, education or training.

William and Kate also heard about IFA workshops and education courses that help students develop life skills.

They learned about the Stay Onside initiative, which works with criminal justice agencies in a bid to reduce offending rates.

The Cambridges also heard more about the game of Powerchair, an adapted version of football for wheelchair users.

The Duchess of Cambridge greeted a little boy dressed in a waistcoat and bow tie before making her way inside the stadium

The royal mother-of-three appeared taken by the little boy - while he was more interested in playing with her bouquet

The royal mother-of-three appeared taken by the little boy - while he was more interested in playing with her bouquet

The royal mother-of-three appeared taken by the little boy – while he was more interested in playing with her bouquet

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were animated as they arrived at Windsor Park for the first stop on their two-day tour

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were animated as they arrived at Windsor Park for the first stop on their two-day tour

The Duchess of Cambridge today

The Duchess of Cambridge today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were animated as they arrived at Windsor Park for the first stop on their two-day tour

Father-of-three William bent down to speak to some of the children waiting outside Windsor Park for the couple, pictured

Father-of-three William bent down to speak to some of the children waiting outside Windsor Park for the couple, pictured

Father-of-three William bent down to speak to some of the children waiting outside Windsor Park for the couple, pictured

Football fan Prince William looked delighted as he was given a tour inside Windsor Park, home of the Irish Football Association

Football fan Prince William looked delighted as he was given a tour inside Windsor Park, home of the Irish Football Association

Football fan Prince William looked delighted as he was given a tour inside Windsor Park, home of the Irish Football Association

On arrival at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, the couple were greeted by scores of cheering schoolchildren.

William and Kate stopped to chat with the crowds, with the Duchess being presented with a number of bunches of flowers.

International boss Michael O’Neill was among senior Irish Football Association staff who welcomed them at the entrance to the recently redeveloped venue.

O’Neill, who himself won 31 caps playing for Northern Ireland, has been credited with bringing the glory days back to the team during his tenure as manager.

The smartly-dressed boy grabbed the Duchess' attention as he waited with his mother outside Windsor Park stadium

The smartly-dressed boy grabbed the Duchess' attention as he waited with his mother outside Windsor Park stadium

The smartly-dressed boy grabbed the Duchess’ attention as he waited with his mother outside Windsor Park stadium

The playful youngster was full of beans and raised a smile from the Duchess of Cambridge at the football stadium

The playful youngster was full of beans and raised a smile from the Duchess of Cambridge at the football stadium

The playful youngster was full of beans and raised a smile from the Duchess of Cambridge at the football stadium

Radiant Kate beamed as she was handed several bouquets of spring blooms by well-wishers in the crowd outside the stadium

Radiant Kate beamed as she was handed several bouquets of spring blooms by well-wishers in the crowd outside the stadium

Radiant Kate beamed as she was handed several bouquets of spring blooms by well-wishers in the crowd outside the stadium

The Duchess of Cambridge needed two hands to carry the beautiful tulips she was handed by well-wishers at the engagement

The Duchess of Cambridge needed two hands to carry the beautiful tulips she was handed by well-wishers at the engagement

The Duchess of Cambridge needed two hands to carry the beautiful tulips she was handed by well-wishers at the engagement

Kate wore delicate heart earrings for the outing in sunny Belfast. The couple have a number of appearances planned

Kate wore delicate heart earrings for the outing in sunny Belfast. The couple have a number of appearances planned

The Duchess of Cambridge today

The Duchess of Cambridge today

Kate wore delicate Kiki McDonough ‘Lauren’ leaf earrings for the outing to Windsor Park in Belfast today

The Duchess of Cambridge looked very relaxed as she chatted to well-wishers who had waited to see the royal couple

The Duchess of Cambridge looked very relaxed as she chatted to well-wishers who had waited to see the royal couple

The Duchess of Cambridge looked very relaxed as she chatted to well-wishers who had waited to see the royal couple

A group of young schoolgirls looked in awe of the Duchess of Cambridge, 37, as she leaned down to speak to them

A group of young schoolgirls looked in awe of the Duchess of Cambridge, 37, as she leaned down to speak to them

A group of young schoolgirls looked in awe of the Duchess of Cambridge, 37, as she leaned down to speak to them

He led the side to its first major tournament in 30 years at the 2016 European Championships in France.

During their tour of the venue, the couple also met Northern Ireland footballing legend Pat Jennings.

Former Spurs and Arsenal goalkeeper Jennings is Northern Ireland’s record caps holder, with 119 appearances during a career that took in the 1982 and 1986 World Cup Finals.

William and Kate were shown a bronze cast print of the stopper’s celebrated ‘safe hands’ as they walked through the stadium’s heritage centre. 

The couple will then travel to the Roscor Youth Village charity in Co Fermanagh, which is a residential activity centre for children referred by social workers.

It is the third time the couple have visited the region together. 

The Duchess of Cambridge donned a £1,200 Carolina Herrera coat and LK Bennett boots for the occasion

The Duchess of Cambridge donned a £1,200 Carolina Herrera coat and LK Bennett boots for the occasion

The Duchess of Cambridge donned a £1,200 Carolina Herrera coat and LK Bennett boots for the occasion

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak to members of the military outside Windsor Park in Belfast on Wednesday

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak to members of the military outside Windsor Park in Belfast on Wednesday

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak to members of the military outside Windsor Park in Belfast on Wednesday

The Duchess of Cambridge elegantly swept her hair behind her shoulder as she made her way into the stadium in Belfast

The Duchess of Cambridge elegantly swept her hair behind her shoulder as she made her way into the stadium in Belfast

Duchess of Cambridge today

Duchess of Cambridge today

The Duchess of Cambridge elegantly swept her hair behind her shoulder as she made her way into the stadium in Belfast

On arrival at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, the couple were greeted by scores of cheering schoolchildren

On arrival at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, the couple were greeted by scores of cheering schoolchildren

On arrival at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, the couple were greeted by scores of cheering schoolchildren

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived for a two-day tour and started the visit at Windsor Park, pictured 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived for a two-day tour and started the visit at Windsor Park, pictured 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived for a two-day tour and started the visit at Windsor Park, pictured 

Their final visit of the day will be to Belfast Empire Hall to celebrate ‘inspirational young people who are making a real difference in Northern Ireland’.

On previous visits, the couple attended a garden party at the royal residence at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, in June 2016, when they mingled with many of the 2,500 invited guests.

Five years earlier, they visited Northern Ireland just weeks before their wedding.

On that occasion, Kate tossed pancakes at Belfast City Hall and hammered in fence posts at Greenmount Agriculture College in Co Antrim.



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