Wednesday 18 January 2017

Crosbie stunned by gift from 'deeply touched' queen

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

Published 05/12/2011 | 05:00

ENTREPRENEUR Harry Crosbie has received an early Christmas present . . . from Buckingham Palace.

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The heavy wrapped gift arrived with a letter thanking him for his part in welcoming the queen to Ireland, including a star-studded concert at the Convention Centre in Dublin.

The property developer was stunned over the weekend to be contacted to say how much Queen Elizabeth II "had been deeply touched and moved" by the event last May.

Westlife, the Chieftains, 'X Factor' finalist Mary Byrne, and dancers from 'Riverdance' performed at the event, which was hosted by the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as a thank you for the invitation to Ireland.

The historic night ended with the queen being given a five-minute standing ovation by the 2,000 invited guests.

The letter, on Buckingham Palace headed notepaper, begins "Dear Harry" and describes the concert as a "highlight of a visit full of highlights".

It adds: "I am enclosing with this letter a small Christmas present as a token of thanks to you for your wonderful contribution to the success of the queen's state visit to Ireland in May."

It is signed on behalf of the palace by Queen Elizabeth II's deputy private secretary, Edward Young.

Mr Crosbie said he would not be opening the gift-wrapped present until Christmas Day.

"It's all wrapped up in wrapping paper. It weighs a tonne," he said.

Mr Crosbie said his only regret about the royal visit had been "not going for a pint" with Prince Philip.

"Philip was a funny, mischievous man."

One of the most memorable moments on the night of the concert came when the queen asked Mr Crosbie if she could go onstage at the Convention Centre to thank the audience and performers.

"The queen was visibly moved by the warmth of the reaction. This was something she decided to do on the spot. Earlier that evening she told me that she had absolutely loved Ireland so I told her: 'Ma'am you have captured the hearts of the people of Ireland', and the queen replied 'What a lovely thing to say, Mr Crosbie'."

The Docklands-based impresario said that the queen later told her ambassador that her four days in Ireland were among some of the most important in her 60-year reign.

Recalling the work that went into the concert, he said: "Nobody got paid, but the artists and production crew involved helped cement the success of Queen Elizabeth's visit here.

"It has changed the tone of the relationship between Ireland and England, and has laid to rest many years of bad history."

It was British ambassador Julian King who approached Mr Crosbie to stage the concert, a job Mr Crosbie worked on solidly for two months.

Irish Independent

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