Belfast Telegraph

Prince Charles' royal visit to Ireland helps heal wounds

Editor's Viewpoint

When the Queen visited Ireland in 2011 she spoke of the painful legacy of the turbulent history of these islands and how violent events have touched everyone, many personally.

She was speaking indirectly, but clearly, of her own loss through the IRA's assassination of Lord Louis Mountbatten and three others at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo in 1979.

It was a reminder how the horrors of terrorism have reached into the homes of the highest in the land and that their pain is just as searing and lasting as anyone else's.

That will make the proposed visit next month of Prince Charles to the seaside village where the atrocity happened all the more testing and poignant.

Lord Mountbatten was a much-loved granduncle of the prince and also a guiding influence. There is no doubt that his murder deeply affected the man destined to be the next king and to visit the village and look out to the bay where the Mountbatten's boat was blown to bits could be quite an ordeal. It will certainly be an intensely charged occasion.

While the Queen has always been able to hide her personal feelings while performing her royal duties, Charles is relatively more inclined to wear his heart on his sleeve.

We have the evidence of his letters to government ministers to show how he is moved by certain issues and wants to have his say even at the danger of running across protocol which forbids royal meddling in government policy.

This visit is also seen as another step in the preparation for Charles to ascend the throne with Camilla.

There has been an evident increase in the frequency and importance of the royal duties they have performed as a couple and Buckingham Palace has been keen to play up their successes, notably the recent US visit.

While the Queen's historic visit to the Republic four years ago broke centuries of ice, a royal visit to both parts of this island is still a sensitive engagement and observers will be keeping a keen eye on the couple to see if they can build on the rapport that flowed from Her Majesty's flawless performance.

However, most people will recognise the pressure on Prince Charles and applaud him for his brave gesture in visiting Mullaghmore.

They will see it as another part of the healing process between the two nations, a balm on a wound that is still raw.

Belfast Telegraph


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