Queen's speech to give Irish tourism right royal boost
Tourism chiefs in the Republic are hoping for a huge boost from an unlikely source — the Queen's Christmas speech.
The annual address is expected to be dominated by her first public reflections of her successful State visit to Ireland in May and will include footage of a number of the sites and landmarks she visited on her four-day trip.
The broadcast, which is being produced by Sky News for the first time, is expected to reach huge audiences — possibly even eclipsing the record 27m who tuned into the 1987 speech — following a massive upswing in interest in the monarchy across the globe over the past year.
Sky producers, who are understood to be bringing in a populist touch to the often austere Christmas message, have a wealth of upbeat material to choose from, including two royal weddings and Prince Philip's 90th birthday.
It's been confirmed that the Queen, who takes a central role in deciding the content of her message, will use the opportunity to reflect on the warm reception she received in the Republic on a gruelling schedule which included visits to Dublin, Kildare, Tipperary and Cork.
That means tourist sites, such as The Rock Of Cashel in Tipperary and Cork's English Market, which have already received a huge lift in numbers, can expect another welcome boost when footage of the royal couple's visits there is screened to millions once again.
Another well-placed Palace source said the Queen always takes a central role in picking the broadcast's themes and that viewers could expect the most upbeat speech in decades, in which she will fondly look back at her visit to the Republic.
“It's been the best year in living memory for the Royal family, with two royal weddings, Prince Philip's 90th birthday and, not least, the historic visit to Ireland,” the source said. “It's no secret that the visit to Ireland meant a huge deal to her and she wants to use the speech to reflect on it publicly.
“She has so many fond memories of the year and has a wealth of stuff to choose from, but all I can say at this stage is that Ireland will feature centrally in the speech.”
It's been well documented that the Queen has spoken at length in private of her fond memories of her visit here.
In a letter to the Lord Mayor of Cork she described her visit to the city, where she broke with royal protocol and shook hands with the public after receiving an unexpectedly rousing reception, as “deeply moving”.
According to other reports, she has even privately described the visit — the first by a British monarch in 100 years — as the highlight of her reign.
She will finally get to put into her own words what the significance of the visit meant to her in what will be her 59th Christmas address.