Limerick ladies’ joy at meeting ‘down to earth’ Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Vicky, left corner, met with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the garden party Picture: Simon Carswell/Irish Times

Vicky, left corner, met with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the garden party Picture: Simon Carswell/Irish Times

LIMERICK ladies Dr Vicky Phelan and Joy Neville were two of some-300 select guests to meet and greet the Royal newly-weds, the Duchess and Duke of Sussex, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry this week.

Guests received personal invitation by phone from the British Embassy to attend the lavish garden party at the British Ambassador’s residence in Glencairn, south Dublin, on Tuesday evening.

However, the names of the two Royal guests were not disclosed to attendees at the time of invitation.

CervicalCheck campaigner Dr Vicky Phelan, from Annacotty, and top rugby referee Joy Neville, from North Circular Road, were part of a large contingent from the arts, sport, politics, cultural and charitable worlds.

Famous guests included Amy Huberman and husband Brian O’Driscoll, actor Barry Keoghan, designer Orla Kiely, Brian O’Driscoll and Tanaiste Simon Coveney, among others.

Vicky, the mum-of-two who exposed the CervicalCheck scandal, was praised by the Duchess, who said: “You’re doing great work, keep doing it.”

She said she was “stunned” that Ms Markle, who married Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, knew about her brave story.

“I couldn’t really believe that she knew who I was, to be honest. I mean I know people know my story elsewhere but still don’t think the Royals watch anything like this. But I have met some really good people here and I have also been talking to the politicians obviously. That was my main aim really – to keep the story live really, to keep it going,” she was quoted in reports.

Joy Neville, who was selected World Rugby Referee of the Year in 2017, told the Leader that it was “an honour” to be invited to the lavish event.

“They are a lovely, lovely couple. They are beautiful upfront and close as they are on TV. It was a lovely occasion and it was a really nice evening and a nice atmosphere. They were very, very down-to-earth people.

“We had a bit of a chat about the soccer, and had a bit of a laugh and joke. It just shows the human side that they have. We are all human at the end of the day. It is nice to see the humility and characters behind the two famous faces.

“I know there’s a lot of what they can and can’t do as royalty, and I have always admired him for him being true to himself. They are good ambassadors and can be good role models for young people, and they certainly do that,” she said. 

She said she was asked by Prince Harry who she wanted to win in the Fifa World Cup this week.

“Without stating to Harry I wanted England to win, at the same time, I didn’t want them to lose, let’s put it that way!”

The couple’s presence at the garden party was part of a two-day royal visit to Ireland as they meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and top officials.

This latest honour for Vicky comes two weeks after she received an honorary doctorate of letters at University of Limerick for her effort in highlighting the CervicalCheck controversy.

Speaking before the major ceremony on June 26, Vicky said: “That is why I am doing this; it’s all young women with small kids, a lot of them a lot younger than mine. That’s the reason I am still at this, because I know I have to use my voice. Because people are listening to me at the moment. And I will keep going until I can’t, basically.”