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Picture of the week: Historic handshake over a cuppa

By Helen Carson

Published 23/05/2015

This week the hand of friendship between Prince Charles and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams meant so much more than a cursory handshake which is customary when two people meet
This week the hand of friendship between Prince Charles and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams meant so much more than a cursory handshake which is customary when two people meet

To most of us, it's an almost subconscious gesture, an outreaching to another human being, but this week the hand of friendship between Prince Charles and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams meant so much more than a cursory handshake which is customary when two people meet.

The first day of the historic Royal visit was marked by the heir to the throne meeting the Sinn Fein leader - Prince Charles with tea-cup in hand and gaze fixed pointedly on a smiling Adams brought an important image of humanity to Anglo-Irish relations in one simple move.

The visit to Ireland, which Prince Charles admitted he had been thinking about "all his life", was laden with poignancy and sadness.

On the second day, the prince cut a lonely figure on a Sligo beach, looking out to sea where his much-loved uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and three other people were killed in an IRA bomb 36 years ago.

Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, people in Northern Ireland have become accustomed to such symbolic moments, but this tour north and south of the border was significant because a member of the Royal family was the person who had been affected by the Troubles, rather than the people he encounters on his round of Royal outings.

This was the first time Prince Charles has been to Ireland with Camilla and the pair largely got a warm welcome wherever they went during the four-day stay.

Handshakes aside, other highlights of this Royal visit included a religious ceremony at St Patrick's church in Belfast, a place of flashpoint during the marching season, and the amount of goodwill generally on show to Charles and Camilla in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Most commentators agreed the visit was a huge success, helping to pave the way to increased tolerance and better community relations for all.

HELEN CARSON

Belfast Telegraph

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