Prince Charles to meet Sinn Fein leaders
Prince Charles is set to meet with senior members of Sinn Fein next week, it can be revealed.
It is understood that representatives of the Prince of Wales and the republican party have agreed to a meeting.
It is not known yet if there will be a public handshake or any appearance by the two sides together.
It is believed that a location has yet to be arranged, although Charles is expected to make appearances in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Charles is also expected to meet with other party leaders, including DUP leader Arlene Foster.
It is not the first time Charles has met with Sinn Fein leaders.
Last year he had a private meeting with the party’s leadership which lasted over 30 minutes in Co Cork.
The prince and his wife Camilla met president Mary Lou McDonald and vice president Michelle O’Neill.
Charles posed for a photo with the two women later.
Speaking afterwards, Ms McDonald said she had been glad to avail of the opportunity to extend the hand of friendship, and acknowledged Charles’ desire for reconciliation.
Charles first met the Sinn Féin leadership in 2015 when he talked to Gerry Adams and the late Martin McGuinness.
The heir to the throne has a deep and abiding love of Ireland, and is a regular visitor to the island. At Cork’s City Hall last summer Charles said he had “nothing but the greatest confidence that the friendship, collaboration and mutual understanding that Ireland and the United Kingdom have enjoyed over recent years will endure”.
And in May 2015 he made an emotional journey to the holiday home of his beloved great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was murdered by the IRA in Co Sligo in 1979.
He is also said to consider his mother’s State visit to the Republic in 2011 as the crowning achievement of her reign, something he believed cemented the normalisation of Anglo-Irish relations.
The landmark visit saw a warm reception for a speech in Dublin Castle in which the Queen opened her remarks with a phrase in Irish. Another key moment saw her lay a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance for those who died in the fight for independence from Britain.
And in 2012 the Queen shook hands with former IRA commander Mr McGuinness in a moment of historic significance that would have been unimaginable during the Troubles.