A cake-shaped crown and bunch of veg for Royal visitors

A bunch of leafy veg and a crown-shaped cake were among the items specially prepared for the Royal couple by the stallholders of St George’s Market.

The Queen and Prince Philip perused tables belonging to a linen-seller, baker and greengrocer as part of their tour of the old indoor bazaar, close to Belfast city centre.

Alan Telford, 49, of the Ballywalter area, with a cake he had made in honour of the Queen

Alan Telford, 49, of the Ballywalter area, with a cake he had made in honour of the Queen

One stallholder said they had known since Saturday about the visit, and that police officers had been sleeping in the market ever since then, with bomb disposal experts also combing the venue for threats ahead of the Queen’s 25-minute scheduled visit.

Alan Telford, who runs the Cakery Bakery with 16-year-old daughter Victoria, had created a colourful crown cake encrusted with sweet “jewels” for the visit.

“She was very impressed,” said the 49-year-old from the Ballywalter area.

“We talked about the days we worked, where we lived, the family business.

“They’re lovely. I thought the Queen was very down-to-earth, and very approachable.

“It was a bit nerve -wracking, but I think more nerve-wracking for Victoria – she was very excited to see the Queen.”

Simon Matthews, 33 and from north Down, was manning the nearby fruit and veg stand.

He had been very nervous, but said: “It was nice meeting the Queen – she’s a very pleasant lady.

“She put me at my ease, seemed quite normal, and was interested in what I’m doing here at St George’s Market.”

The Duke showed a particular interest in ginger and his home-grown garlic, after which Mr Matthews gave the Queen a bouquet of red Russian kale and rainbow chard.

“I told her to have it for her dinner,” he said, adding: “It’s been quite exciting – and I’m glad I didn’t faint!”