King Charles and Queen Camilla arrived in Northern Ireland on Wednesday, May 24, for an unannounced two-day visit to partake in a series of engagements marking their coronation earlier this month.

Charles and Camilla were in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim on Wednesday to open the new Coronation Garden at Hazelbank Park, which has been established to commemorate the recent coronation, as well as to mark the start of a new green initiative for the local community. 

The garden is framed by a 932 square-meter meadow, which includes both annuals and perennials. It is a 100% Island of Ireland provenance wildflower seed mix.

“I thought I was seeing things,” Camilla laughed after one of the spinning topiaries surprised her. “Maybe there are two little leprechauns under there!”

The royal couple was welcomed by the Lord-Lieutenant of Co Antrim David McCorkell, mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Stephen Ross, and North Belfast MP John Finucane (Sinn Féin).

🌸 The Coronation Garden is in bloom!

🤝 Today The King and Queen met local gardeners and gardening groups in Newtownabbey who have been involved in creating the new space.

♻️ The garden has been built and grown using composted, recycled and reclaimed local materials.

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 24, 2023

The couple then visited Hillsborough Castle in Co Down, where they met the winners of a School Bench Competition, launched in January 2023 by Historic Royal Palaces.

Blythefield Primary School’s winning design incorporated a variety of flowers to reflect the diversity of their school: Costus Spectabili to represent Nigeria, Hibiscus to represent Malaysia, and Water Lily to represent Bangladesh.

Also at Hillsborough, King Charles held audiences with Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Lord Jonathan Caine.

👑 An absolute pleasure to host today’s annual garden party at @HillsCastle in the presence of Their Majesties The King and Queen.

🤝 A wonderful setting and special atmosphere as representatives of the community across NI came together following the recent Coronation.

— Chris Heaton-Harris MP (@chhcalling) May 24, 2023

The King and Queen were guests of honor at a garden party at Hillsborough Castle, where they planted a magnolia tree to commemorate their coronation.

Among the guests at the party was PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, who was shot when he was off-duty on February 22 in Co Tyrone. Caldwell, who was making his first public appearance since the attack, is understood to have had a private meeting with Charles.

DUP head Sir Jeffery Donaldson also attended the garden party, as did representatives of Sinn Féin.

Charles and Camilla were last in Northern Ireland in September 2022 where they received a motion of condolence at Hillsborough Castle and attended a service at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth.