Volvo gets royal boost as Prince Harry keen to attend Galway finale
By Kernan Andrews
Britain’s Prince Harry is expected to visit Galway city this summer for the finale of the Volvo Ocean Race, in what would be the first visit by a British royal in more than a century.
The prince, who is third in line to the British throne, is understood to have expressed an interest in travelling to Ireland following the acclaimed success of his grandmother’s high-profile visit to Ireland last May.
The last occasion on which was British royal visited Galway was in 1903, when Prince Harry’s great-great-great-Grandfather Edward VII came as part of his official visit to Ireland.
High-level talks are now taking place at a diplomatic level to pave the way for Prince Harry’s visit to Galway. He has a keen interest in sailing and holds the honorary title Commodore of Small Ships and Diving.
The process of bringing the Prince to Galway was set in train some weeks ago by Fine Gael councillor Pádraig Conneely, who was mayor during the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in 2009. Cllr Conneely has maintained contact with the crews and organisers of the event since his tenure as mayor, and was informed that the British royal was a strong supporter of the ocean race.
“I have kept in touch with many of the people I met during the last event in 2009, some of whom know Prince Harry personally,” Cllr Conneely told the Galway Advertiser. “It was suggested to me that he would warmly welcome the opportunity to come to Galway for the finale.”
Cllr Conneely subsequently made enquiries through the British diplomatic service and was in contact with the Taoiseach’s office to notify them of the circumstances. Since then the Fine Gael councillor has learned that there has been “engagement at the highest diplomatic level, and it is just a matter of protocol before a visit is confirmed”.
Cllr Conneely believes the visit of Harry would be “of immense historic significance” to the city and represent “a huge opportunity for the local economy”.
“Prince Harry’s proposed visit represents an equal opportunity for Galway as it is put in the shop window of the world,” said Cllr Conneely. “Queen Elizabeth II intimated to Taoiseach Enda Kenny during her visit that it would be incumbent on the younger generation of royals to follow her in travelling to Ireland