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March 23, 2018 06:57 AM

Surprise! Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kicked off an unannounced visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Friday.

For nearly 40 years, the area was rocked by shootings and bombings as the Irish Republican Army demanded an end to British rule there. The royal family endured its own heartbreak through the troubled history, with Prince Charles’ beloved uncle, Louis Mountbatten, assassinated in 1979 by an IRA bomb.

So it was fitting that Meghan and Harry – whose May 19 wedding invitations were revealed on Thursday — began their day celebrating a youth-led peace-building initiative called Amazing the Space.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Harry launched the program when he visited Northern Ireland for the first time last September. Both Meghan, 36, and Harry, 33, are championing youth in their public work, and Amazing the Space encourages young people to become ambassadors for peace within their communities.

They arrived at about 10:30 a.m. local time to hear from youngsters who shared their aspirations for a peaceful future and showcased the reconciliation work being done by young people across Northern Ireland.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Karwai Tang/WireImage

Meghan looked stylish in a cream crew neck sweater from Victoria Beckham and a forest green skirt from Greta Constantine. The exact skirt style isn’t available online, but you can get a similar look here for $299 and here for just $13. She topped off the look with a belted wool coat by Mackage, red velvet Jimmy Choo pumps and a Charlotte Elizabeth purse.

The couple were given an enthusiastic welcome by 2,000 student who had no idea that Harry and Meghan were joining them for the day. When the couple were announced to the kids inside the Eikon Exhibition Centre, they cheered and clapped. 

The couple chatted with students involved in the program, with Harry telling them: “The previous generations have caused such problems, but with your help it can never happen again. You’re trying to educate the older generation which is just amazing. Well done. Clean the slates guys, you got this!”

Meghan laughed at Harry’s passionate outburst and joked: “No pressure…”

Harry replied, “Over the years religion has divided us but we’re all the same underneath. The most important thing is that the door is open and you just keep pushing at it. Ten, fifteen, years ago you would have been up against the tide, but you’re going with it now. Keep it up!”

Niall Carson/PA Wire

Their second stop was at one of Belfast’s most historic buildings, The Crown Liquor Saloon. The former gin palace is now owned by the National Trust, which cares for heritage buildings, and inside the couple heard about the pub’s colorful history, met bar staff and local comedians and musicians.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Karwai Tang/WireImage

After seeing the campus of Northern Ireland’s next-generation science park, the couple are then set to visit an icon of the city – Titanic Belfast, a tourist attraction that tells the story of the doomed Titanic, which was built in the famous shipyards of Belfast.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Niall Carson/PA Wire

Today’s trip completes the list of four nations that make up the United Kingdom. After turning out in Nottingham, England on their first joint outing in December (and following that at Brixton, London, too), they visited Cardiff, Wales in January and then Edinburgh, Scotland a day before Valentine’s Day in February.

When Prince William and Kate Middleton headed across the water to Belfast just before their wedding in 2011, they took part in some pancake flipping as their visit coincided with the festivities of Shrove Tuesday.

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