Charles meets Manchester United hero Harry Gregg during Northern Ireland trip

The Prince of Wales meeting the public during a walkabout (Niall Carson/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Prince of Wales met a Manchester United hero during a visit to the Ulster University in Coleraine.

Harry Gregg, 85, said he treated the heir to the throne “just like any other human”, and said he thinks he appreciated that.

Mr Gregg played for Manchester United from 1957-66, and made 25 appearances for Northern Ireland as a goalkeeper before going on to become a manager.

He also survived the 1958 Munich Air disaster and was praised for leading other passengers to safety.

“To me, he’s royalty, but he’s a human being like you and I, and I think he appreciates that, I don’t think he expects me to bow and curtsy and do all that, and to me that’s very important,” Mr Gregg said.

“I shocked him because I said, ‘we met before, you gave me an MBE’, and he said ‘oh yes, of course’.

“When he gave me my MBE, he was standing on something to make him a little bit taller because at that time I was very tall, taller than I am now.”

The prince was introduced to a number of children from the Harry Gregg Trust, which aims to introduce encourage more people to play football.

But the excitement was almost too much for eight-year-old Brooke McLaughlin from Coleraine, who like Mr Gregg, was playing goalkeeper during the visit.

Royal visit to Northern Ireland Credit: Royal visit to Northern Ireland

She started crying when the prince approached, later explaining she was very nervous to meet him.

“It was cool and I thought it was amazing,” she said.

“I am just so excited to have met him.”

There was a buzz of excitement ahead of Charles’ visit to the campus with staff queuing for the chance to meet him.

Kerry Derbyshire, Debbie Buick, Jane Purdy and Tracey Grissam were among the lucky ones at a barrier who got the chance to shake the prince’s hand when he arrived at the Diamond and Octagon entrance to cheers.

“He’s lovely, he asked us about the building and how many international students we have here,” Ms Derbyshire said.

Royal visit to Northern Ireland Credit: Royal visit to Northern Ireland

“He’s a lot softer than maybe he comes across, I’m very glad we got the chance to meet him.”

Charles’ visit to the Ulster University comes as it celebrates its 50th anniversary year.

He was introduced to a number of staff and entertained by the university’s choir, who sang Here Comes The Sun among other 1960s classics, before going on to plant a tree in the grounds of the campus.

Ulster University Coleraine provost, Dr Karise Hutchinson, described the day as an historic one for the institution, its staff and students.

“What Prince Charles saw today is how as a campus we reach out to the community,” she said.

“I think he got a flavour of how we have a local impact.”

She went on to describe welcoming Charles to the university which she herself attended as a teenager, a “dream come true”.

“It was a day that will go down in history, not just for me, but for the university, its staff and it’s students,” she added.