Prince William jokes he'll 'get in big trouble' as he takes time to hug and greet Belfast crowds

The Prince of Wales has joked he will be in trouble after hugging well-wishers during a walkabout in Belfast.

William made a flying visit to the Northern Ireland capital on Tuesday as part of his UK tour to launch his new Homewards project to target homelessness.

Despite the visit not being notified, crowds of cheering well-wishers gathered on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast to cheer the heir to the throne on a rainy morning.

After meetings in the Skainos community centre with activists around homelessness, the Prince crossed the road for an impromptu walkabout to greet the swelling crowds.

There were shouts of “good morning sir” and “welcome to the east” as well as the waving of union flags, with pensioners, babies and dogs among the crowds.

William laughed as someone asked if he had had a fry, before someone else suggested a battered Mars Bar, motioning to a nearby chippie. The owner, standing nearby told the Prince, “anything you want”, to which the Royal visitor admitted he had had a fry that morning.

He posed for photographs, and laughed as one lady told him: “You’re even more lovely in real life, so handsome.”

There was more laughter – and an apology – when one well-wisher told him: “We thought Charles was coming.”

William joked: “I’ll get into big trouble” after hugging Debbie Johnston, 57, before pressing on to shake the rest of the offered hands, adding: “Have a nice day, guys,” as he got into his vehicle to travel to the next stage of his tour in Scotland.

Ms Johnston revealed that locals had spotted police cones and cordons being set up on the Newtownards Road on Monday night, sparking intense speculation around who would be coming.

“I knew something was happening,” she told the PA news agency.

“Then someone said ‘Prince William is coming’, so off we went. I got a hug and a kiss from him, he was so friendly, I leaned over – I would have climbed over if I had to.

“He said he’s going to get into a bit of trouble for hugging, but I said it’ll be OK.”

Sam Sloan, 59, said he got to shake William’s hand twice.

“An absolutely smashing fella, a person of the people,” he said, adding he doesn’t want to wash his hand after getting that handshake.

“He’s absolutely lovely, Princess Diana all over again.”

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