Northern Ireland

The Queen in Northern Ireland: Visit takes in north coast landmarks

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Media captionThe Queen visits the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have visited landmarks on the north coast as part of their two-day trip to Northern Ireland.

Their first stop on a busy day of public engagements was a tour of the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim.

The Unesco World Heritage Site is made up of some 40,000 large black basalt columns which protrude from the sea.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption One folk tale says the stones were built by the Irish giant Finn McCool
Image copyright PA
Image caption Tourists gathered on the volcanic stones to get a sneak peek of the royals

It was the Royal couple's first visit to Northern Ireland's best known tourist attraction.

The causeway formed when molten rock was forced up through fissures in the earth to form a lava plateau.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh then travelled to the nearby village of Bushmills to commemorate local soldier Robert Quigg.

He won a Victoria Cross for bravery during the Battle of the Somme.

Image caption Leonard Quigg said his great uncle crawled "into hell" in a bid to rescue his boss at the Somme

Sgt Quigg was given the highest military award for valour after going out into the line of fire to search for his commanding officer.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh unveiled a statue of the soldier as well as a commemorative stone.

His grandnephew, Leonard Quigg, also gave a short address.

From there, the Royal couple moved on to a reception at Portrush Golf Club as guests of the mayor for the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

Afterwards, they took a journey back in time as they travelled on a steam train from Coleraine, County Londonderry, to the village of Bellarena.

Large crowds gathered in Coleraine to greet the couple as they boarded the five-carriage train, built in 1932.

Image caption The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh travelled on a steam train from Coleraine to Bellarena, repeating a journey they first made in 1953
Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption At the end of her steam train journey, the Queen officially opened Bellarena's new train station in front of a number of invited guests

The Royal guests were accompanied by local schoolchildren as they travelled to Bellarena, where the Queen officially opened the village's new train station.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh first made the same journey along the historic Coleraine to Londonderry railway line in 1953 - the year of her coronation.

Media captionFootage filmed on a train that carried the Queen from Coleraine to Londonderry in 1953

The original station had opened a century earlier in 1853.

Earlier this year, two new railway platforms opened in Bellarena, as part of a £46m upgrade to the Coleraine to Londonderry railway line.

On her arrival in the village, the Queen unveiled a plaque marking the new development.

Wellwishers lined the route, waving union flags and cheering.

On Monday, the Royal visitor met Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers at Hillsborough Castle in County Down.

Media captionThe Queen jokes she is "still alive" as Martin McGuinness asks her if she is feeling well

The trip is the third high-profile royal visit to Northern Ireland in weeks and follows on from appearances by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and then the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh last visited Northern Ireland in June 2014.

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