King Charles cheered in Northern Ireland

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King Charles has received a rapturous welcome at Hillsborough Castle, the royal residence in Northern Ireland, on his first visit as monarch.

The sovereign and Camilla, the Queen Consort, flew to Belfast from Edinburgh on Tuesday, the same day the Queen's coffin will be flown to London from Scotland.

Cheers and applause greeted the royal couple as they arrived at Hillsborough, with some in the crowd shouting "God save the king!" The royal couple stopped to chat with some of the well-wishers and shook many hands.

Charles even petted a corgi -- famously his late mother's favourite breed of dog -- held up by one person.

"Today means so much to me and my family, just to be present in my home village with my children to witness the arrival of the new king is a truly historic moment for us all," said Hillsborough resident Robin Campbell.

"Although it is also a day tinged with great sadness as we witness a loving son coming to our village while we are all in mourning for the loss of a truly magnificent queen and his loving mother," he added.

The royal standard was raised on the castle's flagpole as the monarch came in, and a 21-gun salute rang out on the castle grounds.

King Charles is to visit an exhibition about his late mother's long association with Northern Ireland.

He is also due to meet political leaders from Northern Ireland and hold a meeting with the British government's secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

While there was a warm welcome in Hillsborough, the British monarchy draws mixed emotions in Northern Ireland, where there are two main communities: mostly Protestant unionists who consider themselves British and largely Roman Catholic nationalists who see themselves as Irish.

That split fueled three decades of violence known as "the Troubles" involving paramilitary groups on both sides and UK security forces, in which 3600 people died.

The royal family was touched personally by the violence: Lord Louis Mountbatten, a cousin of the Queen and a much-loved mentor to Charles, was killed by an Irish Republican Army bomb in 1979.

A deep sectarian divide remains, a quarter century after Northern Ireland's 1998 peace agreement.

But in a sign of how far Northern Ireland has come on the road to peace, representatives of Sinn Fein -- the main Irish nationalist party, linked during the Troubles to the IRA -- are attending commemorative events for the Queen and meeting the King on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein's president, Mary Lou McDonald, paid tribute to the 96-year-old monarch following her death last Thursday, calling her "a powerful advocate and ally of those who believe in peace and reconciliation."

The president and prime minister of the neighbouring Republic of Ireland are also due to attend a memorial service in Belfast, despite tense relations between Dublin and London over Brexit.

The Queen's coffin will be flown to London from Edinburgh on Tuesday evening.

St. Giles's Cathedral, where members of the public have paid their respects as the coffin lies at rest, is to close at 3pm and two hours later a hearse will take it to Edinburgh airport.

Princess Anne will accompany the coffin on its flight to London.

From RAF Northolt, west of London, the coffin will be driven to Buckingham Palace where it will be met by members of the royal family.

On Wednesday, it will be taken on a gun carriage in a military procession to Westminster Hall where a period of lying in state will begin until September 19 when a state funeral will be held.