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Here's Why Harry and Meghan's Latest Appearance Was Kept Secret

The royal couple visited Northern Ireland amid heightened security concerns

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a surprise visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Friday as part of the prince's tour with his fiancée to introduce her to the people of the United Kingdom. There had been reports the couple was planning to make a stop in Ireland during their upcoming honeymoon, so today's trip was completely unexpected.

Unlike the couple's previous appearances, the trip to Belfast was not announced prior to their arrival because of security concerns. For the past four decades Belfast has been the site of shootings and bombings by the Irish Republican Army who want to end to British rule in the area. Prince Charles' uncle, Louis Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA in 1979 during a bombing.

"The security surrounding Harry and Meghan is very tight everywhere," said a source. "There are plenty of officers with them on their appearances but historically, there is extra caution any time the royals visit Northern Ireland."

In a nod to diplomatic dressing for her first trip to the Emerald Isle, Meghan wore an understated green skirt by Greta Constantine and the ivory sweater by Victoria Beckham she wore for her engagement portrait under a taupe wrap coat by the Canadian label, Mackage (the $750 style instantly sold out in the chic shade )and burnished brown velvet Manolo Blahnik pumps, which are quickly becoming a signature look for the duchess-to-be.

This was the second time Harry visited Northern Ireland. Last September, the prince was there to launch a youth-led peace-building initiative called Amazing the Space, a program designed to encourage teens and young adults to become ambassadors for peace within their communities.

The royal couple visited the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn, where they attended an event to mark the second year of Amazing the Space. Harry and Meghan, who have made it a point to speak with children and teens throughout their tour of the U.K., spent the morning talking to young people about their dreams and aspirations for peace in the region. Harry told the delighted school children that despite religious differences, "We're all the same underneath."

"Harry and Meghan were very touched by the kids who they met and their commitment to building a better, more peaceful world," said one observer.

The couple also stopped at Belfast's most historic buildings, The Crown Liquor Saloon, now owned by the National Trust, which cares for heritage buildings, where they met bar staff and local comedians and musicians. The rest of the visit is said to include a stop at Titanic Belfast, a tourist attraction that tells the story of the doomed Titanic, which was built in the famous shipyards of Belfast.

The trip rounds out the couple's visit to four nations that make up the United Kingdom. Harry and Meghan first visited Nottingham, England on their first official appearance on the tour (stopping at Brixton as well), then went to Cardiff, Wales in January and then Edinburgh, Scotland the day before Valentine's Day in February.

"This tour has really helped Meghan gain confidence in her new role as a royal," said a insider. "With Harry by her side and her training as an actress, she is far more ready to assume this new way of life than Diana or even Kate ever was."

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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