Queen Elizabeth 'to make first visit to Irish Republic'
Queen Elizabeth may soon receive an official invitation to visit Ireland for the first time, according to renewed speculation about the controversial but long-expected trip.
President McAleese is reported to be hopeful the first state visit would take place during her term in office, which ends next year.
It would be the first time a British monarch has set foot in the Irish Republic.
A visit has been mooted for several years as the peace process brings closer ties between London and Dublin, lowering the hurdles.
Such an event would have been inconceivable prior to the IRA pledging to hand over its weapons; the organisation murdered Queen Elizabeth's uncle, Earl Mountbatten in August 1979.
Buckingham Palace said it “never commented on possible future state visits”, and a source added that the palace was not aware of plans for a trip to Ireland.
However, a report in the Daily Mail quoted Mary Kenny, author of Crown And Shamrock, a new book about the relationship between Ireland and the British monarchy, and who recently met Mrs McAleese at an Irish Embassy reception in London, saying: “They believe privately it will happen next year. The political situation has been transformed and the mood is right.”
2011 will mark the centenary of the visit by Queen Elizabeth's grandfather, King George V, to Ireland.
In December, Mrs McAleese spoke of her hope that Queen Elizabeth will finally make her historic visit to Ireland in the next year.
Speaking on RTE’s Late Late Show, she said: “I’d like to think it could happen. I’ve long since been on the record as saying I think it could be one of the greatest symbols of where we have moved to as a country if we had that great reconciliation with our neighbour,” she said.
“We have seen a huge change in the relationship. It’s probably the best it’s ever been historically. It’s friendly, it’s fraternal, it’s collegial. We wouldn’t have a peace process if it wasn’t as collegial and as partnership-driven as it is, so we are very fortunate,” she said.