In a historic first, the Queen of England stepped foot on Irish soil today. This makes her the first British monarch to travel to the Republic in 100 years and the first since Ireland gained its independence from Britain.
Politicians both in England and Ireland have described this as a momentous four-day event. Her entourage includes land, air and sea patrols and a ring of steel that will be around the Irish capital. The security operation is said to cost 30 million euro. While some people have voiced their protest about the visit, both the British and Irish governments have explained that they hope the official trip will create better relationships between the two countries.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister David Cameron will join the Queen, highlighting the important of the visit. As part of normal practice, Foreign Secretary William Hague will accompany the royals.
Mary McAleese, the Irish president, said while being interviewed by state broadcaster RTE, “I think it is an extraordinary moment in Irish history. A phenomenal sign and signal of the success of the peace process and absolutely the right moment for us to welcome onto Irish soil, Her Majesty the Queen, the head of state of our immediate next-door neighbours, the people with whom we are forging a new future, a future very, very different from the past, on very different terms from the past and I think that visit will send the message that we are, both jurisdictions, determined to make the future a much, much better place.”
On the Agenda
The Queen’s visit will include Dublin, Cork, Kildare and Tipperary. During her stay, the Queen will be a guest of honor at Trinity College, the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge and the Guinness Storehouse. She will visit Croke Park and the Garden of Remembrance as well.
The last visit to Ireland by a British reigning monarch was by the Queen’s grandfather, George V in 1911. Since then, bitterness over Northern Ireland and other political issues have strained relations between the UK and the Irish Republic.