Prince Charles paves way for Queen to visit Republic
The Prince of Wales made an historic visit the Irish Embassy in London last night — the first time a member of the British royal family has visited the institution.
Charles, joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, met leading figures from Irish society at a special reception hosted by the country's ambassador, Bobby McDonagh.
Sir Terry Wogan described the visit as “significant”, saying he believed it would lead to a widely anticipated trip by the Queen to the Emerald Isle.
The much-loved BBC broadcaster said: “In view of the fact that his mother, Her Majesty the Queen, will be visiting Ireland next year — or so I hear — this is significant.
“I've been in Ireland a lot this year doing a documentary for BBC television on Ireland and there is a lot of anticipation.
“You've got to understand despite 700 years of oppression, starvation and immigration the Irish still have an enormous affection for the English.
“This is an historic thing, the Queen will undoubtedly get a fantastic reception in Ireland.”
Among the guests were Irish celebrities who have become household British names from Sir Bob Geldof, former Formula One racing boss Eddie Jordan, singer Val Doonican and comic Patrick Kielty.
Northern Irish MPs and peers were also at the event held at the building in London's Belgravia.
Rumours that the Queen will visit Ireland have persisted for much of the year but Buckingham Palace has always said it does not talk about the Queen's diary so far in advance and that there has been no official invitation. Speaking about the possibility of a royal visit, Bob Geldof said it would be important for both Britain and Ireland: “The time is right now, it's a sign of maturity and getting a life for both of us.”
The reception was also attended by people from different strands of Northern Ireland politics, including the Rev Ian Paisley and David Trimble, now the peer Lord Trimble.
Mr Paisley also had a positive response to the rumoured visit, saying: “It's very important that the relationship between Ireland and the UK should be developed.
“We are part of the EU together and have many things in common and in a period of difficulty we should be co-operating with one another.”