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Sunday 21 September 2014

Book reveals the day Haughey sat on Queen Victoria's throne

John Spain Books Editor

Published 27/04/2013 | 08:58

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HOW did Margaret Thatcher's visit to Dublin lead to Charlie Haughey hopping up on the throne once occupied by Queen Victoria and telling everyone they should kneel before him?

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And what did Mrs Thatcher really think of Charlie? These are just some of the questions answered in the authorised biography of Mrs Thatcher written by former 'Daily Telegraph' editor Charles Moore and published this week.

There have been a number of books on the Iron Lady recently but this authorised biography offers a unique insight into what Mrs Thatcher really thought about Ireland and particularly about Mr Haughey.

According to the book, she took quite a shine to Mr Haughey at their first meeting when she invited him to lunch at No 10 on May 21, 1980. Mrs Thatcher was "quite charmed" by Charlie, the books says, "but this did not lead her to concede anything of importance".

The funniest moment in the book happened when Mrs Thatcher came to Dublin in December 1980.

"Before lunch, Haughey had shown Mrs Thatcher the throne room in Dublin Castle and invited her to sit on the throne once occupied by Queen Victoria. She 'firmly' declined, but suggested Haughey should do so if he wished.

"After Mrs Thatcher had left the Castle, Haughey returned to the throne room. One of his officials turned to him and told him he could now sit on the throne with impunity: 'Sure after today aren't you the King of Ireland?'" According to the book, Leonard Figg, the new British Ambassador to Dublin, revealed in his report back to London that Mr Haughey then sat on the throne, "and told the company they should now all kneel".

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