IT WAS an historic day to remember when the newly crowned city of Bangor was given the Royal seal of approval by Princess Anne on Friday. The Princess Royal officially unveiled the ‘Letters Patent’, the legal instrument issued by King Charles to formally confirm the status of ‘City’ to the former town, when she attended the historic Bangor Castle ceremony.
City status was awarded to Bangor as part of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, just three months before her passing in September. Bangor is now one of six cities in Northern Ireland along with Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh, Lisburn and Newry. Congratulating everyone who had contributed to the town achieving its new status, Princess Anne said it was ‘always a pleasure’ to visit Bangor, and recalled fondly her past visits in 2013 and 2016.
The Princess Royal spoke of Bangor’s ‘rich history’ noting its appearance on the medieval Hereford Mapp Mundi, as ‘Civitas Benair’ or City of Bangor and in good humour said: “I can only apologise for taking so long to make sure that in fact you are now properly a city in 2022.” Regarding the long awaited £50m redevelopment of Queen’s Parade and the planned £40m waterfront development, Princess Anne said the city was ‘embarking on a number of significant regeneration projects’ and hoped that city status ‘will provide a new boost to these exciting plans’. Children and young people from across the borough, including pupils from Bangor Central Integrated Primary, Bangor Academy, Bangor Grammar, Glenlola, St Columbanus and the South Eastern Regional College, welcomed Princes Anne to the town hall. The local Sea Cadets also provided a guard of honour and representatives from the Coastguard and RNLI joined in a guard of honour outside Bangor Castle.
During the visit, Bangor Ladies Choir, the first Ambassadors for the City of Bangor, sang a medley of classics for the Princess including Jubilate Deo, Your Song, Something Inside So Strong and Over The Rainbow. Local jewellers, Robinson Goldsmiths, presented the Princess with a platinum and gold pendant entitled ‘On the Crest of the Waves’.
The Princess also met with some of the local organisations who had supported the city status bid, including Bangor Marine, the Queen’s Parade developers, as well as Alison Gordon, of the Open House Festival team, and Geoff Thompson, president of Bangor Chamber of Commerce. Princess Anne took time to speak with representatives from local statutory and voluntary agencies as well as Bangor’s flourishing arts and culture including Patrick Boyd, talented frontman of The Florentinas, Colin Bateman, former County Down Spectator deputy editor, and author and artist, Terry Bradley. The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas, accompanied the Princess during her visit and said: “It is my absolute pleasure to mark this very historic event for the town and people of Bangor. I am the Mayor for the whole of our borough but I am a Bangor resident, which makes my involvement today all the more special. “I couldn’t be prouder that my home ‘town’ has been honoured with this distinction, and I will do all I can to make sure that we build positively on it as we work together to shape a bright new chapter for the new City of Bangor.”
Congratulating everyone involved in Bangor’s city bid, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Northern Ireland Secretary of State, said the granting of city status ensures a lasting legacy for Northern Ireland as part of this year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II. “Bangor’s city status will provide a further boost to tourism and to the economy, creating new opportunities for investment and growth, benefitting the local community and providing much recognition for the area,” he said.