Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

An unmistakable symbol as Queen Elizabeth lays wreath to Ireland's republican rebels

Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by President Mary McAleese visit the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by President Mary McAleese visit the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II and President Mary McAleese lay a wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Irish Government - Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh offered a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II arrives to lay a wreath at Dublin Memorial Garden on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Police and protesters clash in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are shown the Book of Kells during a visit to Trinity College Dublin on May 17
The Queen at the Aras an Uachtarain.
The Queen shakes hands with Irish President Mary McAleese after arriving at Aras an Uachtarain (The Irish President's official residence) in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland.
Protestors make their way down a street in Dublin after the Queen arrived in the country for a four day state visit.
Protestors make their way down a street in Dublin after the Queen arrived in the country for a four day state visit.
Protestors make their way down a street in Dublin after the Queen arrived in the country for a four day state visit.
The signatures of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh are seen in the visitors book at Aras An Uachtarain in Phoenix Park, Dublin
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaks to the media in front of the Dublin Monaghan Bombings memorial in Dublin city centre, in response to the royal visit by Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II holds a posy of flowers given to her by eight-year-old Rachel Fox after she was greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Baldonnel Airport on the Royal Flight on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Baldonnel Airport on the Royal Flight on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Baldonnel Airport on the Royal Flight on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore (front) upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, ahead of a four day state visit.
Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel
Irish Army Rangers are seen at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, ahead of the arrival of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
A sticker on a lamppost critical of the state visit to Ireland by the Queen.
Princess Elizabeth of York in 1927
George V with Queen Mary visiting Ireland in 1911, the last reigning monarchs to visit.Queen Victoria visiting Dublin in 1900
A poster is seen on a lamp post in advance of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's visit on May 16, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
PRESIDENT MARY ROBINSON AND QUEEN ELIZABETH
George V with Queen Mary visiting Ireland in 1911, the last reigning monarchs to visit.Queen Victoria visiting Dublin in 1900
The Royal Standard flag flies from an Irish pub ahead of the state visit to Ireland by the Queen on May 16, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Members of the public walk past phone boxes taped shut by police ahead of the state visit to Ireland by the Queen
Picture dated 1935 showing Princess Elizabeth sitting in the studio of Hungarian sculptor Sigismund de Strobl (background).
NI visit 1949. The young Princess Elizabeth visits Northern Ireland.
Gardai and security outside the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city centre, ahead of the royal Visit by Britain's Queen of Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh this week.
People walk past graffiti in Dublin city centre, ahead of the royal visit by Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II meets Dame Helen Mirren at a reception to celebrate young people in the performing arts, at Buckingham Palace
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, for a four day state visit.
The 8th Royal Hussars lead the procession for King George V and Queen Mary down Grafton Street,Dublin during the Royal Visit in 1911
WINSTON CHURCHILL MEETS QUEEN ELIZABETH II
KING GEORGE V1865-1936
King George V, arriving at Belfast City Hall accompanied by Queen Mary to the opening of the first Ulster Parliament. 22/6/1921.
King George V1 (VI) : Coronation on May 12th 1937. The Royal family robed and crowned on the balacony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation, with the princesses.
Princess Elizabeth with her grandparents King George V and Queen Mary; and Snip the King's Cairn terrier, 1928.
Princess Elizabeth of York in 1927
20/11/1947 Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, now the Duke of Edinburgh with their eight bridesmaids in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, on their wedding day.
King George V, at Belfast City Hall accompanied by Queen Mary to the opening of the first Ulster Parliament. 22/6/1921.
Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret riding a rocking horse at St. Paul's Waldenbury in August 1932
Princess Elizabeth of York with lilies in 1929
Princess Elizabeth (who became Queen Elizabeth II). The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Elizabeth (who became Queen Elizabeth II) playing with Victorian glasses. The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Duchess of York with Princess Elizabeth (who became Queen Elizabeth II). The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Visit to Northern Ireland. In Ballymena.
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Ulster Celebrations. Coronation Book Display. 4/6/1953
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Ulster Celebrations. Beechill, Lisburn. 30/5/1953
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Ulster Celebrations. Loopland Drive Party.
2/6/1953, of the coronation in Westminster Abbey of Britainís Queen Elizabeth II. 50 years on the anniversary will be marked later Monday June 2, 2003, with a service in the Abbey, attended by members of the Royal family, invited guests and 1,000 members of the public.
2/6/1953. Bishops pay homage to Queen Elizabeth II, at her coronation.


DESPITE the hassle, and expense, in that one moment it was all worth it.

It was an extraordinary moment that had been 100 years in the making.

An unmistakable gesture that went far beyond words — and meant all the more for it.

Those waiting for an official apology from the Queen in the symbolically spectacular cathedral of Croke Park today were always liable to have their hopes dashed by protocol.

It simply could not be managed, say those in tune with royal etiquette.

Instead, what happened yesterday was something more discreet but arguably more concrete, when the Queen took herself to the spot where many leaders of the 1916 Rising were held overnight before being taken to Kilmainham.

The Garden of Remembrance was dedicated in 1966 by Eamon de Valera to the memory of “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom”.

A peaceful and perhaps somewhat grubby park in the north of Dublin's inner city, it is now the prominent focal point of many protest marches on their way to the Dail.

As a pit-stop, it was “a standard element of a state visit”, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs insisted yesterday, but the playing of God Save the Queen at a site dedicated to those who fought against centuries of British rule was something many people never thought they would see.

It was a huge statement, symbolising the normalisation of relations between two neighbouring countries and former foes.

And, of course, it cements the success of the peace process.

Aside from a few faces peeking from the windows of the Dublin Writers Museum and the Hugh Lane Gallery, there were no members of the public in sight.

The north of the city was in lockdown mode — practically martial law — and the authorities were clearly of the view that anything else was a risk not worth taking.

A triumvirate of former Irish prime ministers arrived — Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and Albert Reynolds.

At three o'clock, whoops and cheers went up from Parnell Street and members of the Press cocked their heads, wondering — friends or foes?

The Royal Range Rover pulled up at the entrance and the Queen and Prince Philip disembarked.

She had changed into a new, fancier outfit than her green landing ensemble — an ivory dress and coat of Swiss wool, interwoven with silver and gold threads, trimmed with olive-green flowers and a matching hat.

President Mary McAleese had followed suit, exchanging her earlier pink for a more sober black dress and coat, trimmed with white piping.

Behind, Martin McAleese and Prince Philip chatted happily.

By now, cries of protest could clearly be heard in the background and the British and foreign Press nodded grimly — they had thought so.

Almost alone, it seemed, the Queen stood in front of the mournful sculpture of the Children of Lir which represents the Irish war dead, looking up as the British national anthem was played out by the combined military band.

Then she took a laurel wreath handed to her by two military police. She adjusted the ribbon and stood back. Then she bowed her head.

Moments later, the same gesture was made by President McAleese, who placed a second wreath on the stand.

A fleet of black balloons drifted almost, but not quite, overhead, released in a gesture by the Irish Anti-War Movement in a silent but highly visible protest.

Then the Tricolour was hoisted aloft to flutter in the breeze and every Irish person in the garden stood a little straighter as their National Anthem sounded out.

If there was one moment to sum up the whole visit, this, surely, was it.

Despite the rows, the cost and the noses out of joint, it somehow seemed to be worth it.

Stopped on the way out, Bertie Ahern told how he sat next to Her Majesty at a banquet after the Good Friday Agreement and she had told him that she had been everywhere in the world “twice” but that she would “like to set foot in the Republic of Ireland”.

That wish was fulfilled yesterday.

No wonder the Queen was beaming.

Background

The Garden of Remembrance was opened in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. It is dedicated to “the memory of all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom”. The laying of a wreath in the Garden is an element in all State visits. The sculpture, inspired by the legend of the Children of Lir and the WB Yeats poem, Easter 1916, was unveiled in 1971.

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