Queen will visit Game of Thrones set on Northern Ireland visit

 

For the first time in their bloody history, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros will bow down before an undisputed Monarch. The Queen is to visit the set of Game of Thrones during a trip to Northern Ireland next week.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will tour the giant studio facility used to film the hit HBO fantasy series, in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast.

It is not known whether the Royal party regularly gorge on episodes of the epic drama, notorious for its scenes of violence, gore and nudity.

But having maintained her own grip on the Iron Throne for 62 years, surviving an “annus horribilis” and keeping all pretenders to the crown at bay, the Queen would surely sympathise with the battle for supremacy between the Lannisters and Starks.

The show has proved a massive boon to the local economy in Northern Ireland, bringing in £87m over its four seasons.

One of the biggest television productions in Europe, Game of Thrones has created 900 full-time, and close to 5,700 part-time jobs.

The show is shot around Northern Ireland and it has spawned a tourist industry offering fans the chance to see the “real Westeros” from the Stormlands, filmed in Cushendun Caves in County Antrim, and Riverrun, located at River Quoile, County Down.

As well as the Game of Thrones tour, there is a “Winterfell archery range experience” held in Clearsky’s courtyard at Castle Ward in County Down where the original scenes were shot.

Northern Ireland is developing an international reputation as a leading filming destination, with the power-sharing administration at Stormont offering attractive incentives to producers to film in the region. Game of Thrones producers have announced there will be at least another two series of the show.

The Royal visit follows the finale of season four, which was watched by 1.3m Sky Atlantic viewers, with many more downloading the episode on catch-up services.

The episode also a new piracy record with an estimated 1.5m illegal downloads in the 12 hours after it aired. The average HBO audience during the series was 18.6 million per episode, surpassing The Sopranos.

The season finale, "The Children", saw many of the show’s leading characters making key decisions which will have repercussions in future episodes, while others met a typically grisly end.

The Queen’s visit was revealed in an official Buckingham Palace tweet which read: “As part of the visit to Northern Ireland The Queen and The Duke will tour the Game Of Thrones set in the Titanic quarter #Belfast #GoT.”

During their three-day trip, the Queen and the Duke will also visit to the historic Crumlin Road Gaol.

They will also be guests at a reception and lunch at Belfast City Hall and will attend a garden party at Hillsborough Castle - the Queen's official residence in Northern Ireland.

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