WATCH: Royal visitor helps welcome home troops

HRH The Earl of Wessex has helped the people of Lisburn welcome home the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 Rifles).

Prince Edward, the Royal Colonel of 2 Rifles, joined crowds in the city centre on Friday morning for an inspection and salute of the troops.

Soldiers from 2 Rifles recently returned home to their base at Thiepval Barracks after completing a six-month deployment in Iraq where they provided training for the Iraqi army and security forces.

The Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh, Councillor Tim Morrow, hosted a Homecoming Breakfast Reception at Lagan Valley Island on Friday morning before 2 Rifles, led by the infantry battalion’s band, paraded through the city centre.

Following the inspection and salute, taken at Market Square North, the parade of more than 400 service personnel returned to Lagan Valley Island.

“It was an honour to welcome the Earl to Lagan Valley Island and to Lisburn,” said Cllr Morrow. “I was very pleased to welcome our serving troops to Lagan Valley Island following their recent return from Iraq. We respect their bravery, camaraderie, and dedication to duty. It is for these very reasons that it was a privilege to welcome 2 Rifles today.”

HRH the Earl of Wessex, Royal Colonel of the 2 Rifles meets members of the public in Lisburn City Centre.' 'Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.

HRH the Earl of Wessex, Royal Colonel of the 2 Rifles meets members of the public in Lisburn City Centre.' 'Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.

Speaking ahead of the event, Lt Col Neil Belamy, Commanding Officer of 2 Rifles, commented: “To be invited to parade through the streets of our home city of Lisburn is a great honour for all of the riflemen of the battalion and for me personally as the Commanding Officer.

“The unit has recently returned from Operation ‘SHADER’ in Iraq and this weekend is the perfect opportunity to come together and celebrate being a unit with our local community.

“Lisburn has been our home for a few years and we have been made to feel very welcome. We have forged great relationships and the high point of this for me will be Friday when we get to parade through our home town in front of all of our friends.”

Councillor Scott Carson, Chairman of the council’s Corporate Services Committee, added: “The council appreciates the dedication and achievements of all our service personnel and we were delighted to have the opportunity to see our returning troops parade through Lisburn in such glorious sound and colour. Lisburn has a long and respected history with the Armed Forces and we greatly appreciate their work, training and the service brought across the world for Queen and country.”

HRH The Earl of Wessex inspecting the troops of 2 Rifles during their homecoming parade in Lisburn. Pic courtesy of @lisburnccc

HRH The Earl of Wessex inspecting the troops of 2 Rifles during their homecoming parade in Lisburn. Pic courtesy of @lisburnccc

In advance of the homecoming event, the Band of 2 Rifles performed in Market Square, Lisburn on Thursday afternoon, March 8.

The military band impressed crowds of onlookers with a rousing 40-minute performance.

Video footage courtesy of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

The Band of 2 Rifles performing in Market Square, Lisburn on Thursday afternoon, March 8. Pic by John Kelly

The Band of 2 Rifles performing in Market Square, Lisburn on Thursday afternoon, March 8. Pic by John Kelly