Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Kate Middleton
During a walkabout outside Carrickfergus Castle on Thursday, the Princess of Wales greeted well-wishers. However, when she reached out to shake the hand of one woman who was recording the encounter on her phone, the woman took her hand and appeared to tell the royal, "Nice to meet you, but it would be better if it was when you were in your own country."
Kate continued to smile and moved on to shake other people's hands, but the woman then added: "Ireland belongs to the Irish."
Northern Ireland makes up the U.K. along with England, Scotland and Wales. However, there has been controversy and conflict since England first occupied Ireland in the 1600s. In 1920, an act was passed that split the country into Northern Ireland, part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland.
Related video: Kate Middleton and Prince William visit Wales
When meeting members of the public on her visit to Northern Ireland, the Princess of Wales was challenged by a woman who suggested Kate was not in her own country pic.twitter.com/XtaIXFrn96
— PA Media (@PA) October 6, 2022
The late Queen Elizabeth addressed the rift between the two countries in 2011 at a state banquet in Dublin.
"It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss ... with the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we wish had been done differently, or not at all," she said, according toThe Guardian.
The Queen added, "To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy."
In 1979, Prince Philip's uncle Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by a member of the IRA. It took place during The Troubles, a 30-year conflict between republicans and unionists.
Liam McBurney-Pool/Getty Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate, both 40, made the one-day trip to Northern Ireland on Thursday, marking their first visit there since they became the Prince and Princess of Wales following the Queen's death on Sept. 8.
Their day started at the PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland in Belfast, which provides crisis support for those at risk of suicide and self-harm. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has seen a significant rise in those reaching out for help, including an increase of over 500% among young people. Children are helped through art therapy, and the couple joined volunteers in packing "Little Boxes of Hope" care packages that are given to children following their time with the charity to aid their recovery.
Phil Noble - Pool/Getty Images Kate Middleton
Prince William and Princess Kate spoke to charity staff and counselors about the life-saving work, including how it has striven to remove barriers to support those experiencing suicidal thoughts. Some initiatives are its "no appointment needed" service and work to train reception staff to help members of the public in distress.
Their trip also included a lighthearted contest at Trademarket, where Kate and Prince William got behind the bar and faced off to see who could mix a cocktail the quickest. Working from separate stations, the royals quickly poured and shook the spirits, reuniting to toast — and sip! — the mint-garnished pink drinks.
Their final stop of the day was Carrickfergus, about 12 miles from Belfast. The pair chatted with mentors and youths at a charity called Carrick Connect, which helps teens who face emotional or social difficulties. They heard about Carrick Connect's mentoring service that helps young people develop strategies for coping with life. Earlier this year, the charity launched the new "Feel Good Hub," a project designed, organized and driven by young people aged 18-25 to promote physical and mental well-being.