Prince Charles: flying visit to Lismore.

HEIR to the British throne Prince Charles will make a secret visit to Waterford tomorrow as the principal guest at the 60th birthday bash for Lord Hartington, son of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

The private party will take place at the family’s Irish ancestral home, Lismore Castle, tomorrow night. There is speculation Prince Charles will be accompanied by his partner, Camilla Parker Bowles.

Prince Charles will be joined by a number of senior British politicians and celebrities in the west Waterford heritage town for the weekend.

Prince Charles’s attendance at the event has remained a closely guarded secret since it was first planned several months ago.

While top-level garda and army chiefs have been briefed for some time many of the officers, who will be directly involved in the biggest security operation west Waterford has seen, only became aware of the details in recent days.

Lismore Castle refused to comment on the birthday celebrations yesterday. A number of local people are on the guest list, but no member of Lismore Town Council has been invited.

Over the next 48 hours specially trained garda officers from the special detective unit (SDU) and the emergency response unit (ERU) will be drafted in to augment local garda teams from all over the Dungarvan division under Superintendent Michael Blake and Inspector Tom O’Grady.

Up to last night, virtually none of the local residents knew of the birthday party plans, although many of them had been aware of an unusually high level of activity in and around the castle in recent days.

“There have been several helicopters seen circling the castle this week, but news of the birthday party and a first visit by Prince Charles will come like a bolt from the blue to the local community,” Lismore Town Council member Jimmy O’Gorman said last night.

It is understood that Lord Hartington was on one of his regular visits to the town within the last fortnight.

Both Lord Hartington’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, will also be attending, though the duke’s eyesight has seriously deteriorated in recent years and as a result his visits to Lismore Castle have become significantly less frequent.

Last night senior gardaí in west Waterford were maintaining a steadfast silence on the security arrangements being put in place.

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