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Queen takes the Iron Throne during Game of Thrones set visit

The Queen today took in the sights of one of television's most popular fantasy shows, Game of Thrones.

In a whistlestop tour of the new Titanic studios in the old Belfast shipyard, and the old Paint Hall where many scenes are shot, the Queen was given a first hand guide to the work that goes into making a bloodcurdling saga with millions of followers.

She and Prince Philip were shown handmade costumes and props and armoury that has helped further the cult following which Game of Thrones has built. She was also presented with a miniature replica of the Iron Throne of Westeros.

The royal couple spent time chatting with stars of the HBO production, including 17-year-old Maisie Williams, who plays the spirited Arya Stark and 18-year-old Sophie Turner, Arya's elder and more reserved sister Sansa in the show.

Lena Headey, who plays the conniving Queen Cersei Lannister, Kit Harington who plays Jon Snow and Rose Leslie also shook hands with the royal couple.

However, the Queen resisting any temptation to sit on the Iron Throne 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.

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Local Ballymena-born actor Conleth Hill who plays the maniputalive Lord Varys was also on hand to show the dramatic influence the hit show has had on telly addicts and the Northern Ireland economy.

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," he said.

"They had just been to Crumlin so I think it is the two extremes of our history."

Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow, also spoke of the honour of being invited to meet the Queen.

"Being here and meeting the Queen, it's pretty amazing that the show has done that and she has come to see the sets. It gives it some sense of scale," he said.

"She is an incredible person. She has an incredible presence about her. To meet someone who has been on the throne as long as she has and has seen the things she has, it's quite an experience."

Northern Ireland plays a Game Of Thrones

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

Known for its Machiavellian narrative, Philip was not put off by the fantasy series and took to handling a selection of gleaming swords and knives while inspecting props.

They royals also took great interest in armoury and costumes that have helped build the cult following of the show, all of which is 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 said.

"She was really cool and gorgeous and delightful.

"I think of everything she has done and everything she has achieved and the fact she is still interested even though she has met countless people and talked about numerous things."

George RR Martin's epic story has brought £82 million to the region in the biggest television production in Europe - the equivalent of 900 full-time and 5,700 part-time jobs.

David Benioff and Dan Weiss, executive producers and writers of Game of Thrones led the tour through the Paint Hall where the sets for the Red Keep and the Throne Room are housed.

The success of the show is furthering Northern Ireland's reputation as a go-to place for the film industry.

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 both film and television productions.

After just over half hour at the studios the royal couple were driven out of the old shipyard area and into the heart of Belfast where a lunch was being held in their honour at the City Hall.

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