| 1.1°C Belfast

Queen's Hand of History is offered to wrong people

Close

President of the Irish Republic Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth II and GAA President Christy Cooney at Croke Park, Dublin, during the second day of her State Visit to Ireland.

President of the Irish Republic Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth II and GAA President Christy Cooney at Croke Park, Dublin, during the second day of her State Visit to Ireland.

Julien Behal

The British Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Dublin Castle for a State dinner

The British Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Dublin Castle for a State dinner

Irish Taoiseach  Enda Kenny talks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Government buildings where the two held talks prior to attending the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny talks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Government buildings where the two held talks prior to attending the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II

Pool

Protestors march as the Garda form a protective ring around Dublin Castle as the Queen attends a state dinner on May 18, 2011 in Dublin

Protestors march as the Garda form a protective ring around Dublin Castle as the Queen attends a state dinner on May 18, 2011 in Dublin

Chris Jackson

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to attend a State Banquet in Dublin Castle on May 18, 2011 in Dublin

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to attend a State Banquet in Dublin Castle on May 18, 2011 in Dublin

Oli Scarff

A protester near Dublin Castle ahead of the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on the second day of her State Visit to Ireland

A protester near Dublin Castle ahead of the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on the second day of her State Visit to Ireland

Niall Carson

Protestors outside Dublin Castle ahead of the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on the second day of her State Visit to Ireland

Protestors outside Dublin Castle ahead of the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on the second day of her State Visit to Ireland

Niall Carson

Irish Taoiseach  Enda Kenny pictured with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Government buildings where the two held talks prior to attending the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Government buildings where the two held talks prior to attending the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II

Niall Carson

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured with Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband Dr Martin McAleese  at Dublin Castle

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured with Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband Dr Martin McAleese at Dublin Castle

Julien Behal

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to attend a State Banquet in Dublin Castle on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to attend a State Banquet in Dublin Castle on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland

Oli Scarff

Queen Elizabeth II at the Irish War memorial Garden in Dublin.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Irish War memorial Garden in Dublin.

Eamonn Farrell

Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by President Mary McAleese visit the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by President Mary McAleese visit the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.

Pool

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II and President Mary McAleese lay a wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings.  (Photo by Irish Government - Pool/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II and President Mary McAleese lay a wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Irish Government - Pool/Getty Images)

Pool

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh offered a pint of Guinness  at the Guinness Storehouse

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh offered a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse

Maxwells

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Maxwells

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17:  Queen Elizabeth II arrives to lay a wreath at Dublin Memorial Garden on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II arrives to lay a wreath at Dublin Memorial Garden on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Chris Jackson

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Pool

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Pool

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Pool

Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.

Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.

Oli Scarff

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17:  Police and protesters clash in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Police and protesters clash in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Oli Scarff

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011

Pool

  Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.

Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.

Oli Scarff

Queen Elizabeth II  and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are shown the Book of Kells during a visit to Trinity College Dublin on May 17

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are shown the Book of Kells during a visit to Trinity College Dublin on May 17

Pool

/

President of the Irish Republic Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth II and GAA President Christy Cooney at Croke Park, Dublin, during the second day of her State Visit to Ireland.

The Hand of History is once more upon us. Today it manifests in the form of a small gloved hand more used to regal waving, cutting ribbons and dispensing chewable treats to corgis.

It belongs to an 85-year-old lady who in her lifetime has circumnavigated the globe countless times.

But has not, until this week, had opportunity to visit her near neighbours just across the sheugh.

This week she has crossed the Irish Sea to Dublin after a century of rift between two nations.

Yesterday she stepped from her plane on to Irish soil in an outfit of (inevitable) green - a sort of soft Aer Lingus green.

Her smile was wide, her hair postage stamp perfect. She didn't wear the blue hat that the bookies had as odds on favourite. Nor did she wear a Union Jack hat (at 500 to 1).

Beside her, smiling and relaxed stood the wraith-like Duke of Edinburgh.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Only a few weeks short of his 90th birthday, he looks as ancient as our grievances.

Actually he is the same age as Partition which by the standard of Irish memory (north and south) isn't all that old.

The trappings of the historic - and still controversial - visit were all in place. The guard of honour, the little girl with a posy waiting at the end of a slightly askew red carpet.

And in Belfast and Dublin the grimmer resonance of the traditional bomb alerts to remind us that not everyone is cheering this four day visit. At Dublin Castle she was greeted by President Mary McAleese.

The north Belfast woman - elegant as always, even in a Jordan shade of pink - towered a bit above the little Queen. But the rapport between this pair is obvious.

Outside there was that seismic moment as the band played God Save the Queen and Amhrán na bhFiann and the Tricolour flapped high in the sky and an Irish President and a British Queen stood in neighbourly union.

We have all grown up. Dissidents aside, the response of people in the Republic has been generally warm too.

Partly it is acknowledgement of history being made. Partly it's curiosity about a celeb visitor.

But what will the Queen make of some of the guests invited to join her - the various assorted self-styled brigadiers and "leading loyalists" who are loathed by the unionist working class but are - weirdly - lionised by the Dublin establishment?

The guest list, one loyalist invitee informs us smugly, is about being inclusive.

Not so inclusive though that it includes the likes of Rev Chris Hudson. A former trade union leader, Chris spearheaded the Peace Train movement which bravely confronted the insanity of republican terrorists trying to force Irish unity by bombing cross-border rail connections.

Kevin Myers, that journalist of immense integrity who led the charge in restoring to their rightful and honourable place in history those many tens of thousands of brave Irish soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the Great War didn't get an invite either - even though saluting these Fallen is part of the Queen's itinerary.

And also off the list - Ruth Dudley Edwards. (Although Ruth points out that she is not sobbing in her tent over the omission.)

But like Myers this is someone who has shown tremendous courage in challenging stereotypes and standing up to terror not least with her heroic championing and support for the long battle for justice for the Omagh relatives which culminated in her book Aftermath.

Should we be surprised that in a peace process where definition of a peacemaker prioritises previous "involvement", those who consistently railed against violence are now regarded as outside the loop? Borderline suspect, even ...

In this momentous week we should remember that it was likes of Hudson, Myers and Dudley Edwards who stood against terror back when it was unfashionable and dangerous to do so.

And just because they never murdered anyone doesn't mean they're bad people.


Top Videos



Privacy