July 11, 2018 / 12:30 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Football "definitely" coming home, Prince Harry predicts on Irish trip

* Harry and Meghan tour Dublin for second day

* Harry to return to England for World Cup semifinal (Adds visit to site of 1920 massacre by British troops)

By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN, July 11 (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince Harry confidently predicted that England would lift the World Cup as Gareth Southgate’s men prepare for their semi-final against Croatia later on Wednesday.

Asked during a visit to the Irish President’s residence in Dublin whether football was “coming home” to England, Harry replied “most definitely.” The phrase comes from a 1996 soccer anthem “Three Lions”.

Harry and his American wife Meghan began a two-day visit to the Irish capital on Tuesday, their first trip abroad since their wedding in May.

Harry, whose brother William is the President of England’s Football Association, is due to leave Ireland later on Wednesday and return home in time for the 1800 GMT kick off in Moscow.

On the second day in Ireland, Harry paid a symbolic visit to Dublin’s Croke Park stadium, the scene of a massacre by British troops almost a century ago.

The newlyweds also met Irish President Michael D. Higgins, his wife Sabina and their two large Bernese mountain dogs, Brod and Sioda, known for crashing many a photo opportunity.

They then watched young Gaelic footballers and hurlers play the traditional Irish sports at Croke Park, where Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney was pitchside to explain the rules.

The stadium is an iconic place for Irish nationalists. In 1920, during Ireland’s war for independence, British troops opened fire on a crowd there after 14 British intelligence officers were killed in the city the night before.

Fourteen civilians, one aged 10, were killed on a day that became known as Bloody Sunday.

Harry recognised Britain’s complex and “at times tragic” shared history with Ireland in a speech on Tuesday, saying he and Meghan hoped to reflect on some of the difficult passages when they visited the stadium and a memorial to Ireland’s Great Famine of the 1840’s.

Britain’s royal family has played an important role in developing Anglo-Irish relations in recent years, in particular in 2011 when Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, made the first state visit by a British monarch since Ireland won its independence from London in 1921. During the trip, the Queen also visited Croke Park.

The couple met cheering crowds who braved the first rain showers an unusually sunny Ireland has seen in weeks at Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university which was founded with a charter from Queen Elizabeth I.

Some students lent out of windows around the university’s grand courtyard to catch a glimpse and a photo of the pair.

Their visit captured plenty of attention in Ireland with pictures of their first day making the front page of most newspapers. The country’s tourist board predicted the trip would boost the number of holidaymakers coming from Britain, which has slowed since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin Editing by Alistair Smout and Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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