William and Kate try ‘culture shock’ event and handle tarantula during uni visit

·3-min read
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge talk to medical students during a tour of the university (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge talk to medical students during a tour of the university (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were plunged into a “culture shock” in Londonderry as they sampled an initiative to welcome international students.

William and Kate were quizzed on how to pronounce Irish names and learned some of the city’s colloquial phrases which have become world famous thanks to the hit TV show Derry Girls.

The duchess also showed her fearlessness by handling a tarantula.

It came during a visit to the Ulster University, where they met the first cohort of students at the new medical school as well as the first year group on the new paramedic science honours programme at the Magee campus.

Crowds of students turned out to see the royal visitors on Wednesday morning, watching on as they took an interest in a display of animals organised by local mobile zoo company KidzFarm, which regularly comes to the campus to help students deal with mental health and anxiety issues.

As well as rabbits and goats, there were also some wilder species.

William handled a snake, describing it as “very cool” and adding: “George is obsessed with snakes, he’s going to be so upset he missed this.

The Duchess of Cambridge handled a tarantula called Charlotte during the visit (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
The Duchess of Cambridge handled a tarantula called Charlotte during the visit (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

Kate then asked to hold the tarantula, asking what its name is.

Told she is called Charlotte – the same as the royal couple’s daughter, Kate laughed: “Is she really?”

As Charlotte started moving up Kate’s hand, William joked that the spider was animated by his wife’s outfit – a purple trousersuit by Emilia Wickstead.

“Maybe she’s not so keen on purple, or she maybe thinks you’re a flower,” he said.

Next, fortifying shots of whiskey and half-pints of Guinness were on offer for the couple at the students’ union, before they were plunged into the culture shock event which is designed to introduce new students to Northern Ireland.

One student jokingly asked whether the drinks were intended as the hair of the dog following the couple’s attendance at the James Bond premiere in London the previous night, to which William responded: “Ah, there was no drink last night unfortunately.”

William said his snake-obsessed son Prince George would be upset he missed the encounter (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
William said his snake-obsessed son Prince George would be upset he missed the encounter (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

The couple were shown names such as Aoife, Aine, Cathal and Daithi on a laptop screen at a students’ union, before the phonetic pronunciation was revealed, listening carefully and repeating.

“I’m going to have another drink, I’m not doing very well at this,” joked William.

They also tucked into a range of local food, including wheaten bread, a brown soda bread made with wheat flour, and “Tayto crisps” potato chips.

Next was a lesson on the local expressions, including, “Give us a juke at that”, “Let’s head out for a wee dander”, and “This is pure wick, so it is” and “alright mucker”.

The visit also saw the couple enjoy some whiskey and Guinness in the students’ union (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
The visit also saw the couple enjoy some whiskey and Guinness in the students’ union (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

However not all were unfamiliar, William said, adding he would use the word “mucker” a lot from his days in the military.

Before leaving, the couple joined a group of students playing traditional instruments.

Student union president Owen McClaskey and nursing student Abigail McGarvey hosted the couple during the visit.

Mr McClaskey said the visit had gone “great”, while Ms McGarvey said it had been an “incredible” experience to welcome the couple.

“They got a sample of Irish music, Irish names and really got stuck into it, as well as a wee Guinness, I think if there was another two hours in this tour, they would have stayed,” Mr McClaskey added.

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