THE heir to the British throne looks set to visit the city next year. Secret talks have been taking place to bring Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to Kilkenny.
Staff at Kilkenny Castle had been expecting the Prince of Wales to visit the site before the end of the year but they were informed that it had to be postponed because of the Prince Regent’s busy schedule.
News of his imminent arrival will help to shore up the disappointment felt locally earlier this year when Queen Elizabeth opted to visit the Rock of Cashel and Coolmore Stud in Tipperary instead of Kilkenny on her first visit to this country.
The British Ambassador, Julian King was in the city on Thursday night for a black tie event hosted by Kilkenny man, Paul Smithwick at the Castle and it was disclosed that the Prince had requested that Kilkenny form part of his itinerary when he visits next year.
It emerged that the Prince of Wales’ closest confidant, the Marquis of Hartington, the heir to the Duke of Devonshire of Lismore Castle, will shortly pay a visit to Kilkenny Castle in advance of a visit by the man who is the longest serving heir to the British throne.
The Marquis, known as Lord Burlington, is the grand nephew of the Marquis of Hartington who married Kathleen Kennedy, in the 1940s, a sister of John F. Kennedy. Kathleen Kennedy was killed in an air accident in France, and her husband lost his life in the Second World War.
Prince Charles stayed with the Devonshires when he was last in this country a number of years ago at Lismore Castle where security was extremely tight. It is expected that he will travel by helicopter from the extensive country estate on the banks of River Blackwater to the castle.
Security and intelligence personnel attached to the British monarchy have already been to Kilkenny Castle and are said to have been happy with security arrangements in advance of any visit. And following the success of the visits earlier this year of US president Barack Obama and the Queen of England, it is understood any visit by a leading member of the British royal family would be seen as a major boost for the city in terms of tourism and it is thought would increase visitor numbers from England.
Prince Charles’s great grandfather, King George V and his great grandmother, Queen Mary visited Kilkenny Castle in 1899 and memorabilia of that trip have been kept intact and will form part of a display to coincide with the visit.