Crowds turn out in rain to witness ‘moment in history’ at Hillsborough Castle – The Irish Times

Schoolgirl Aimee Campbell carefully holds up a picture outside the gates of Hillsborough Castle to tell the Queen how much she misses her.

Amid torrential rain, the nine-year-old and her family are among the hundreds gathering to watch the proclamation ceremony for King Charles lll.

Moments later, a lone bugler inside the gates of the British Royal family’s ornate Northern Ireland residence, sounds a 40 second fanfare ahead of a bell tolling to mark the beginning of the centuries’ old tradition.

Clutching her flowers and the picture she painted this morning, Aimee looks on. She is making a scrapbook about the life of Queen Elizabeth following her passing on Thursday at the age of 96.

“We came here to show her we love her. My painting says ‘I miss you, your Majesty!,” she says.

Her six year-old cousin, Lily, nods furiously beside her and adds their trip is “out of respect”.

The Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, Robert Noel, reads the accession proclamation and above a sea of umbrellas and mobile phones held aloft, a 21-gun salute is fired by armed forces in full military regalia.

Around 200 dignitaries are invited to cheer three times for Charles, and the ‘hip hip hoorays’ echo around the Co Down village.

Drenched cocker spaniel Honey – dyed red, white and blue for the occasion – is on a lead beside her owner, Bill McConnell, who has travelled from Portadown with his family.

“It’s all part of history, we wanted to be here. As the days go on, it will get more intense, I’d say. We’ve been watching the TV all morning with the removal of the Queen’s body from Scotland,” say Mr O’Connell, wearing a Union Jack cotton hat.

“Everyone here is being very respectful and quiet, and trying to pick up the words as best they can.

“I think Charles will do okay.”

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Beside them a young mother is feeding her six-month-old baby, Pippa, a bottle of milk while attempting to shield her from the elements.

“It’s the end of an era and we wanted to be here, I’m a bit of a history geek,” says Kylie McCully.

Her husband, Peter McCully, met the Queen when she opened his school in 1995.

“I was 15 and attending the City of Armagh High when she and Prince Philip came to visit. It was a brand new school and a massive day for everybody.

“It was a great moment for us. So I thought we’d come here today as it’s definitely a moment in history.”

There was a noticeable absence among nationalist political parties, as neither the The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) nor Sinn Féin were represented.

In a statement, party president Mary Lou McDonald acknowledged “the positive role the Queen played in advancing peace and reconciliation” and said that in recognition of this it would attend a number of events during the mourning period.

“The accession proclamation ceremonies are intended for those whose political allegiance is to the British Crown. Sinn Fein will not be in attendance at these events,” she said.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and Ulster Unionist party leader Doug Beattie were present, along with the new Northern secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris.

For Aimee Campbell’s mother, respect is key.

“We thought it was important for the children to remember this day. It’s part of our history.”

As the crowds depart, the carpet of flowers outside the castle grows.

Among the bouquets, three carefully sealed cellophane bags hold miniature Paddington Bear toys and marmalade sandwiches.

During her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the Queen appeared in a televised skit with Paddington.

A label on the bags reads: “For later, and thank you”.

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