How Kate Middleton Handled A Heckler During A Walkabout In Ireland

Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, is back to attending her royal duties following Queen Elizabeth II's death. Accompanied by William, Prince of Wales, the couple visited Wales for the first time in late September 2022 under their new royal titles (via People). On Oct. 5, Kate went on her first solo outing since becoming the Princess of Wales (via Vanity Fair), visiting a maternity ward at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in England.

Royal life has only gotten busier since these visits. On Oct. 6, they made a one-day visit to Northern Ireland (via BBC News). Like their trip to Wales, it was the first time they'd been to the country as the Prince and Princess of Wales. While in Northern Ireland, William and Kate visited the suicide prevention charity PIPS in Belfast and the Trademarket outdoor market. They then made their way to the town of Carrickfergus, County Antrim, where they visited youth charity Carrick Connect (via Sky News).

When they arrived in Belfast, the Prince and Princess of Wales were greeted by local politicians. They also met with members of the public during a walkabout — but one woman had something more to say than hello to the royal couple.

Britain and Ireland share a troubled history

As Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, greeted the residents of Belfast, one woman took her hand and said (via Sky News), "Nice to meet you, but it would be better if it was when you were in your own country." The woman added, "Ireland belongs to the Irish." 

Ireland is partitioned into two countries, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (via Britannica). This divide has been a point of contention for centuries, with many conflicts arising from Britain's rule, whether that be when the nation ruled the whole of Ireland in the 1600s or how Northern Ireland has been part of the UK since 1920 (via People).

In the video of the exchange between the Princess of Wales and the woman, Kate seems to acknowledge her statement before quickly moving on to those standing beside her. The walkabout ended soon after, but not before Kate was given a bouquet of flowers.

The queen addressed the conflict between Ireland and Britain in 2011

The partition between the two countries hasn't always been at the forefront of the royal family's mind. However, in 2011, Queen Elizabeth II gave a rare address during a banquet in Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, where she acknowledged the conflict between Britain and Ireland. According to The Guardian, this was the "closest royals have come to [an] apology for Britain's actions."

"It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss," the late monarch said (via The Guardian). "With the benefit of historical hindsight we can see things which we wish had been done differently, or not at all."

Having experienced a loss of her own during The Troubles through the IRA's assassination of Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip's uncle (via The History Channel), the queen ended her address by sharing her "sincere thoughts and deep sympathy" with those "who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past."