The Queen has sent her “warmest good wishes” to the people of Northern Ireland, on the day marking the foundation of the state 100 years ago.
Legislation was enacted on 3 May 1921 which led to the partition of the island of Ireland, creating Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
In a statement from the Queen, the monarch reflected on the “significant centenary”, while also referencing the “complex history” within Northern Ireland.
“In Northern Ireland today, there is, perhaps more than ever, a rich mix of identities, backgrounds and aspirations, and an outward-looking and optimistic mindset,” she wrote.
“The political progress in Northern Ireland and the peace process is rightly credited to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division.
“But above all, the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests.
“It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment.
“During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions.
“I also wish to recognise the important contribution made by our friends and closest neighbours towards the success of Northern Ireland.
“I look back with fondness on the visit Prince Philip and I paid to Ireland, ten years ago this month. I treasure my many memories, and the spirit of goodwill I saw at first hand.
“Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process. May this be our guiding thread in the coming years.”
Official events to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland will include a special post-mark, an international church service and a plan to plant a tree at every school.
The programme of events also includes an investment conference, a concert and a centenary rose.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson added the government would “continue to showcase all the brilliant things Northern Ireland contributes to the rest of the UK and the world.”
“It is also important that we pause to reflect on the complex history of the last 100 years. People from all parts of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and across the globe, will approach this anniversary in different ways, with different perspectives,” he added.
“While this is a moment of shared reflection, it is also an important opportunity to come together to celebrate Northern Ireland and build towards a better and even brighter future for all its people.”