Princess Royal’s investment summit visit hailed an ‘unexpected pleasure’

A visit by the Princess Royal to a high-profile investment conference in Belfast has been hailed by businesses as an “unexpected treat”.

Princess Anne attended the Northern Ireland Investment Summit, where Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, framed the event as telling a different story of the region to delegates.

Among those the Princess Royal met on a walk were the award-winning directors of An Irish Goodbye, Ross White and Tom Berkeley, who showed her their Oscar statuette.

Mr Berkeley joked that their Oscar had “a strange power”, with people spotting it and immediately coming over to talk to them.

“We had a fantastic chat (with Princess Anne) and it was great to see her interest in our industry and supporting young filmmakers, quite recently we've started making films and we've been on this crazy journey – for us it's to represent the work that's coming from Northern Ireland,” Mr Berkeley said.

Mr White added: “It's so clear to see the passion Princess Anne has for storytelling and for films, telling us about the films she loved growing up, the Disney cartoons and it was great to see.

“It's fantastic to represent the place and the film industry in this place which has gone from strength to strength over the last decade.

“To be able to fly the flag for that and tell people that this is such a brilliant place to bring business and bring productions. If we can be a small part of helping that, we will be happy to do so.”

The summit came at an ideal time for Phil Morrow, CEO of animation company Retinize, a week before the company launched a product called Animotive to “revolutionize the way 3D animated content is created.”

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Mr Morrow said he would do this by making it “fast, fun and affordable”.

They showed an immersive experience to the royal visitor, who smiled as they had the on-screen character bow to her.



Meeting Princess Anne was an unexpected pleasure and she was really interested in what we were doing, asking lots of probing questions about exactly what we were doing and how it worked

Phil Morrow, Retinize

“The summit was a fantastic opportunity to meet some really influential people who we hope can connect us with more potential customers and investors and we are very committed to being a Northern Ireland company that takes the world,” said Mr .Morrow.

“Meeting Princess Anne was an unexpected pleasure and she was really interested in what we were doing, asking lots of probing questions about exactly what we did and how it worked.”

The Princess Royal also met with Edward Dryden, head of interior at Collins Aerospace, and Alan Henning, head of the Northern Ireland business.

The company, based in Kilkeel, Co Down, manufactures aircraft seats for airlines around the world.

With more than 800 employees, the Kilkeel site is one of the largest seat manufacturing facilities in the world.

Mr Dryden described the Princess Royal as ‘very attractive', adding: ‘She probably knows more than the average person about seats.

“He was asking about how the seats have changed and how they can differ depending on the area you're in and even said it's not just a seat but what about the furniture, which was quite impressive – not a lot of people they think so much.

“It was good to understand how the government is thinking about Northern Ireland and how to support outward investment because we at Collins Aerospace are very committed to the facility and the people in Kilkeel, but the question is how we think about developing it. So it's good to align with what the government thinks about it and how we find some connection.”

Mr Henning added: “(Princess Royal) asked a lot about our customers and what kind of customers we have, was interested in how we built the seats in Kilkeel.

“The summit was a great opportunity as a major employer in Kilkeel and in the aerospace sector, to meet government officials, some of our ministers.”