Queen not game as she resists invite to sit on throne

The Queen has resisted the urge to interfere in a bloody power battle on her trip to the North.

A handshake with a former IRA commander might be socially and politically acceptable nowadays, but the monarch kept drama to a minimum on a tour of the Game Of Thrones sets in Belfast’s former shipyard.

Given the chance to become part of the intrigue that has made the show a global hit, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh followed protocol and politely declined.

The royal couple were introduced to leading members of the cast under the shadow of the Iron Throne of Westeros, with the Queen resisting any temptation and instead joking about how uncomfortable it looks.

Maisie Williams, the 17-year-old star who plays the spirited Arya Stark, was the first of the actors to chat to the monarch.

“She kept commenting on how uncomfortable the throne looked, that was funny,” she said.

The coveted seat of power, said to be forged from 1,000 swords, remained empty for the visit with the Queen treating it with as much respect as her own throne in the House of Lords commands — only the ruler sits on it.

Buckingham Palace declined to say whether the Queen and Duke are fans of the show — known for its gratuitous violence and nude scenes as much as its political intrigue. A spokeswoman said they were “interested to see the impact the filming has had on the local economy and the local skills and crafts that make the show”.

To mark the visit to the Titanic studios, producers of the hit HBO series presented the royals with a miniature replica of the throne.

The tour included two of the show’s impressive sets, including the Red Keep at King’s Landing and the Throne Room.

Prince Philip took to handling a selection of gleaming swords and knives while inspecting props.

They royals also took great interest in armoury and costumes, all of which are made locally.

Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister, said she was overwhelmed and honoured by the royal visit. “I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous to meet anybody. I didn’t think I was, and then I saw her appear and I suddenly thought, ‘it’s the Queen, the real Queen’.”

“She was really cool and gorgeous and delightful.

The royals also met 18-year-old Sophie Turner, who plays Arya’s elder sister Sansa in the series, and Ballymena-born Conleth Hill, who plays Lord Varys.

Hill first met the Queen on the day of her historic handshake with Martin McGuinness in the Lyric Theatre in Belfast two years ago.

“She didn’t remember me but that’s fine. She was lovely, very interested, inclusive of all of us.”

George RR Martin’s epic story has brought £82m (€102m) to the North’s economy in the biggest television production in Europe — the equivalent of 900 full-time and 5,700 part-time jobs.

David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the show’s executive producers and writers, led the tour through the Paint Hall.

A strong crew base, stunning locations, studio facilities, and financial incentives are ranking the region as one of the most sought-after filming locations for film and television productions.

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