Belfast Telegraph

Royal visit no longer shrouded in secrecy

By Rebecca Black

First Minister Peter Robinson said that the fact that details of the Queen's visit could be announced in advance is a sign of changed times in Northern Ireland.

Previously, details of her engagements were kept confidential, in stark contrast to the protocols for royal visits anywhere else in the UK.

This was historically because of security reasons and was consistently the case with all trips to Northern Ireland by members of the royal family.

However, this week it was a different matter, and details of Her Majesty's visit were announced ahead of her arrival along with Prince Philip last night.

The new approach has been warmly welcomed by Mr Robinson as it will enable well-wishers to be able to make arrangements to be in place at various locations to cheer the Queen as she arrives.

Mr Robinson said the monarch's three-day visit was a "great honour for Northern Ireland".

"Her Majesty the Queen is held with great affection throughout Northern Ireland," he said.

"As soon as the announcement was made, my mind turned to the spectacular scenes in Stormont Estate in 2012.

"No one will ever forget that royal occasion."

Mr Robinson also praised the fact that more people will be able to come out and greet the Queen as she travels to destinations across Belfast today and up to Coleraine tomorrow.

"It is a sign of changed times that the logistics of this visit could be announced before Her Majesty the Queen's arrival," he said.

"There was a time when a royal visit could not be reported in advance due to security concerns."

He went on to encourage well wishers to turn out and give the Queen a warm welcome as she makes her way across Northern Ireland.

"I trust that lots of people will have the opportunity to greet Her Majesty the Queen over the next few days and express their gratitude for the wonderful leadership she has shown throughout her reign," he said.

The Queen's last visit to Northern Ireland was in 2012 when she took in some of the highlights of Belfast, including the Titanic attraction. In 2011 she made history by becoming the first British monarch to visit Ireland since independence in 1921.

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