Saturday 10 December 2016

Video: Ireland visit 'opened new doors' for queen says Prince William

Victoria Ward

Published 06/02/2012 | 05:00

Queen Elizabeth, who celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year, arriving at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Norfolk, England, yesterday
Queen Elizabeth, who celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year, arriving at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Norfolk, England, yesterday
The queen with former president Mary McAleese, Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sean McCann during last year's historic visit
Queen Elizabeth with her father King George VI who died 60 years ago today of lung cancer, the event which marked her accession to the British throne. Photo: PA

QUEEN Elizabeth's enforced absence from Ireland because of political tensions left her "like a child not allowed to go into a certain room", according to Britain's Prince William.

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The prince said last year's visit to Ireland by his grandmother -- the first by a British monarch in a century -- marked a "huge turning point" and bolstered the relationship between London and Dublin forged during the peace process.

Prince William, speaking in the first part of a BBC documentary series to be aired tonight, said that until that point Ireland had always been "off limits" for his grandmother.

"It's like a door that's been locked to her for a long time and she's been dying to see what's on the other side of it," he said.

"Many people won't understand not being able to go somewhere or see something for your life and being almost like a child not allowed to go into a certain room. She'd always wanted to go in an official capacity so I think it was a huge turning point for her."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British Prime Minister David Cameron also give their verdicts on the queen's groundbreaking visit in the new BBC series celebrating her life.

The first programme of the three-part series, 'Diamond Queen', will be aired tonight to coincide with Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne 60 years ago.

In the second episode of the BBC documentary series, Mr Cameron and Mr Kenny speak about the queen's historic visit to Ireland which surpassed all expectations.

Mr Cameron applauds the queen for travelling to Ireland as soon as she was able, despite his own apprehensions.

"I was nervous about it but I was hugely admiring of the fact that the royal family wanted to go ahead with this visit relatively quickly after the finalising of the last bits of devolution of power to Northern Ireland," he said.

"They didn't want to wait and I thought that was a fantastic judgment."

But the programme also focuses on the darker side of the monarch's relationship with Ireland through interviews with Timothy Knatchbull and his mother, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, two of the survivors of the 1979 IRA bomb in Co Sligo, which killed the queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten.

However, Mr Knatchbull's twin brother, Nicholas, his grandmother, Lady Brabourne (82), and a 15-year-old local boat boy, Paul Maxwell, were also killed in the blast.

'Diamond Queen' will be shown on Mondays, starting this evening, on BBC1 at 9pm.

Irish Independent

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