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COLOURFUL PAST: Prince Andrew shows President Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina, the colours of the disbanded Irish regiments in the Grand Stairs at Windsor Castle

COLOURFUL PAST: Prince Andrew shows President Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina, the colours of the disbanded Irish regiments in the Grand Stairs at Windsor Castle

COLOURFUL PAST: Prince Andrew shows President Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina, the colours of the disbanded Irish regiments in the Grand Stairs at Windsor Castle

'States have no eternal friends, only eternal interests." So said Lord Palmerston, a leading 19th-Century European statesman, prime minister of Britain and Ireland on two occasions and landlord of a 12,000-acre estate in Sligo. Palmerston's view is the ultimate realpolitik view on relations between states.

While it goes too far – countries whose peoples share values and many personal connections can and do have important bonds of friendship – it is mostly correct. Interests are always the main determinant in how states behave.


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