he Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been thrown into ‘culture shock’ in Londonderry as they test out an initiative to welcome international students.
William and Kate were quizzed on the pronunciation of Irish names and learned some of the town’s colloquialisms that became world famous thanks to the hit TV series Derry Girls.
The Duchess also showed her fearlessness by handling a tarantula.
It happened during a visit to Ulster University, where they met the first cohort of students from the new medical school as well as the first-year group from the new allied science honors program on the Magee campus.
Crowds of students turned out to see the royal visitors on Wednesday morning, watching them take an interest in an animal exhibit organized by local mobile zoo company KidzFarm, which regularly comes to campus to help students cope mental health issues and anxiety. .
In addition to rabbits and goats, there were also more wild species.
William handled a snake, describing it as ‘very cool’ and adding: ‘George is obsessed with snakes, he’s going to be so upset he missed this.
Kate then asked to hold the tarantula, asking what its name is.
She was told her name was Charlotte – as the royal couple’s daughter, Kate laughed: “Is she really?”
As Charlotte began to move Kate’s hand up, William joked that the spider was animated by his wife’s outfit – a purple Emilia Wickstead pantsuit.
“Maybe she doesn’t like purple that much, or maybe she thinks you’re a flower,” he said.
Afterwards, the couple were offered fortifying shots of whiskey and half-pints of Guinness at the students’ union, before they were immersed in the culture shock event designed to introduce new students to Northern Ireland.
A student jokingly asked if the drinks were meant to be dog hair after the couple attended the James Bond premiere in London the night before, to which William replied: “Ah, unfortunately there was no drink last night.”
The couple saw names such as Aoife, Aine, Cathal and Daithi on a laptop screen in a student union, before the phonetic pronunciation was revealed, listening carefully and repeating.
“I’ll have another drink, I’m not doing too well,” William joked.
They also savored a range of local dishes, including wheat bread, brown soda bread made from wheat flour and Tayto chips.
Then there was a lesson in local expressions including, “Give us a juke to that”, “Let’s go for a little dander”, and “It’s pure wick, so it’s” and “Okay mucker”.
However, not all of them were unfamiliar, William said, adding that he would use the word “mucker” a lot from his days in the military.
Before leaving, the couple joined a group of students playing traditional instruments.
Student union president Owen McClaskey and nursing student Abigail McGarvey greeted the couple during the visit.
Mr McClaskey said the visit had been “great”, while Ms McGarvey said hosting the couple had been an “amazing” experience.
“They had a sample of Irish music, Irish names and really got into it, and a little Guinness, I think if there had been another two hours on this tour they would have stayed,” added Mr McClaskey.