From Mountbatten’s death to meeting Martin McGuinness, five key moments in Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with Ireland

The Queen’s four-day visit to Ireland in May 2011 was historic. It was the first state visit by a reigning British monarch to the country since the founding of the republic.

Historic visit to Ireland

As part of her visit she visited Áras an Uachtaráin, the Garden of Remembrance, Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse, the National Stud, Coolmore, the Rock of Cashel and Cork’s English Market.

She laid a wreath to honor those who died for Irish independence, which was deeply symbolic.

There were protests against her visit, but it was generally well received in Ireland.

‘Ein Uachtaráin agus a chairde’

The cúpla focail she gave at a dinner at Dublin Castle during her visit in 2011 was also seen as a very symbolic move.

The British monarch addressed President Mary McAleese and those present as Gaeilge, leading to a standing ovation.

The speech paid tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to normalize relations between the two nations and in particular those who have worked on the Good Friday Agreement to ensure Northern Ireland “becomes the exciting and inspiring place it is today”.

Handshake with Martin McGuinness

Queen Elizabeth II’s visit was seen as a harbinger of further collaboration. A lasting iconic image throughout the peace process was the handshake between her and Martin McGuinness.

It was seen as a moment of historic significance and reconciliation that a former IRA commander and the British monarch shook hands.

After the 2012 meeting, Mr McGuinness said he liked the Queen, adding that the meeting had the potential to define “a new relationship between Britain and Ireland and between the Irish people themselves”.

In a speech in Westminster, he referred to the handshake as “the hand of friendship”.

The assassination of her cousin Lord Mountbatten

The Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was assassinated by the IRA in 1979. He had been targeted because of his military background and his connections to the British royal family.

The IRA claimed responsibility for the bombing – which also claimed the lives of three of Mountbatten’s relatives – saying it was “a discriminatory act to bring the English people to the attention of the ongoing occupation of our country”.

The British monarch attended Mountbatten’s funeral at Westminster Abbey along with the rest of the royal family. His death marked a turning point and an escalation of the unrest.

Visits to Northern Ireland

Queen Elizabeth II first visited the island of Ireland as a princess in 1945 when her very first flight took her to Long Kesh airfield, which was later converted into a prison using the H-blocks.

Three years before the riots began in 1969, a Republican protester dropped a concrete block on the Queen’s car as she was being driven towards Belfast during a visit.

Despite tensions ahead of the Good Friday Agreement, Britain’s Queen invited then-President Mary Robinson to tea at Buckingham Palace in 1993. It was the first official meeting between the heads of state of Ireland and Great Britain.

At the meeting, Ms Robinson said she would like the British monarch to visit Ireland, who responded by saying: “You have no idea how much I would like that.”

It was to take another 18 years, but the state visit finally took place in 2011.

The Queen canceled a planned visit to Northern Ireland in October last year due to health concerns. From Mountbatten’s death to meeting Martin McGuinness, five key moments in Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with Ireland

Fry Electronics Team

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