Kate Middleton Masterfully Handled a Heckler’s Comments on a Walkabout This Week

We could all take a page from the new Princess of Wales.

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty)

The royal family is certainly used to (sometimes rampant) criticism from afar—but rarely do hecklers end up in their faces at the many engagements they partake in, whether in the U.K. or elsewhere.

This week, the Princess of Wales came face-to-face with one while on a walkabout in Northern Ireland and handled it with dignity and grace: while meeting (mostly) well-wishers outside Carrickfergus Castle on Thursday, Kate reached out to shake the hand of a woman who was recording their meeting on her phone. The woman took her hand and appeared to say, “Nice to meet you, but it would be better if it was when you were in your own country.”

Kate’s response? She kept smiling and moved on to shake other people’s hands, before the woman added “Ireland belongs to the Irish.” (Take a look at what happened, per People.)

For those that may not be familiar: along with England, Scotland, and Wales, Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. That said, there has been ample controversy since England first occupied Ireland in the 1600s and, in 1920, an act passed that split the country into Northern Ireland—which is part of the U.K.—and the Republic of Ireland, its own country.

Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth addressed the rift between the two countries in 2011 at a state banquet in Dublin, per The Guardian.

“It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence, and loss,” she said. “With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can all see things which we wish had been done differently, or not at all. To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy.”

The tensions reached close to home for the royal family when, in 1979, Prince Philip’s uncle (and the then Prince Charles’ mentor) Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by a member of the IRA. The incident took place during The Troubles, a 30-year conflict between republicans and unionists.

Kate and Prince William’s visit to Northern Ireland marked their first visit there since becoming Prince and Princess of Wales in September. They hit multiple stops while there—including a cocktail mixing contest—before heading to their final stop of Carrickfergus, about 12 miles outside of Belfast.

Rachel Burchfield
Contributing Royal Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.