Irish visit puts Queen to the test

Queen Elizabeth inspects a Guard of Honour at the residence of the Irish President in Dublin on Tuesday. It's the first by a British monarch since Ireland's independence. (Reuters)

One of Queen Elizabeth’s strengths has always been to put people around her at ease.

That is being tested this week on her visit to Ireland, where tensions between the English and the Irish are knotted in a long, bloody history with only temporary bouts of peace.

That is where the 85-year-old Queen finds herself today, trying to keep the march toward peaceful co-existence going.

Still, being the first British monarch since George V to visit the republic in 100 years, any air of celebration or reconciliation is tainted with stifling security and bomb threats.

Much of the Irish media are taking a cautious, almost friendly approach to the visit. Some excerpts from their editorials:

The Irish Times:

“The real significance of the event lies, less in being extraordinary, than in being pleasantly and properly ordinary. It is at last possible to say that the relationship between Britain and Ireland is simply normal. It is what it ought to be between neighbouring countries bound together by strong economic, political, cultural, social,sporting and personal ties.”

… “Queen Elizabeth is welcome as a remarkable woman in her own right, as a figure to whom a significant minority on this island give allegiance and, above all, as a symbol of the mutual affection and common interests of two separate but closely connected countries.”

Belfast Telegraph:

“Unreasonable though (republicans) can be, they may have a point when they say that the visit is premature. What we have, at present, is an amicable modus vivendi, not a final resolution of the historic differences between Britain and Ireland. A State visit should have been held in reserve to mark that final resolution.

The Irish Independent:

“There is every reason to expect that she will enjoy herself. We her hosts should put aside our misgivings, try to ignore the threats and the sealed manhole covers, and enjoy ourselves too.”

The Irish Examiner:

"Irrespective of anybody’s feelings about the monarchy we should respect the choice of the British people to retain their own symbols of governance, just as we expect others to respect the form we have chosen. Nobody is suggesting that the queen’s visit means that we should change our system. Surely we have the confidence and maturity to appreciate this. Any suggestion to the contrary is not just an insult to the British queen, but an insult to the Irish people."


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