| 9.1°C Dublin

Mood lightens as focus moves to sport of kings

THE queen's unlikely cupla focail at the previous night's State Banquet was the hot topic of conversation on the more leisurely third day of her visit.

As the monarch merrily toured horsey country, people seemed genuinely moved that she uttered a few words in Irish -- even if they themselves did not have the foggiest notion what the words meant.

The jockey Ruby Walsh probably spoke for many when he remarked: "She speaks more Irish than I do.''

After all the war memorials, her mood lightened in the company of equine flesh.

Covering the visit to the National Stud (no more quips about Colin Farrell, please), Colm Murray of RTE showed that he could have a future as a royal impersonator.

He gave a high-pitched impression of the queen cheering on her horse during a race: "He's going through the gep! He's going through the gep!''

The TV cameras zoomed uncomfortably close to the backside of a young jockey perched atop an electronic horse simulator.

"Extraordinary," said a BBC presenter. "While we're focusing on someone's rear, we can tell you a bit about the Kildare National Stud.''

Later, a real horse that was introduced to the queen appeared to rear up, and was immediately dubbed "Eirigi''.

Throughout the day Prince Philip jollied things along and again royal watchers waited in vain for a significant gaffe.

Instead, some of the howlers on this trip were committed by natives such as Geraldine Kennedy, editor of 'The Irish Times'.

Video footage of madam somehow neglecting to shake the hand of Prince Philip at Wednesday's banquet was as viral as a bad dose of pneumonia on the internet yesterday.

The prince did not seem too put out by it, nor will he lose much sleep over a reference to him on the news site thejournal.ie as the "Duck of Edinburgh''.

In fact he's great quack.

While most of the coverage of the trip in the British media has been positive, the waspish blogger at the 'Telegraph' drew the line at his sovereign having to attend last night's fashion and music show featuring Westlife.

"An evening of staring at ludicrous dresses, making small talk with designers and listening to four guys, who are slightly too old to be called a 'boyband', sit on stools and croon. My deepest sympathy, ma'am.''

What impertinence! Drown that fellow in a tower of Guinness.

Irish Independent