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Let us all enjoy these historic few days

HOW will we spend the next three days? It would be pleasing to think that we could crowd the streets to see Queen Elizabeth passing by, preferably in a Cinderella-style carriage, and hope for a regal wave.

Sadly, the image is far removed from reality. Those who prefer to live in the past -- a past which often exists only in their gloomy imaginations -- are a tiny minority, but the security forces have to take their threats seriously.

As an unfortunate result, the royal visit and the hopeful and generous relationship between Ireland and Britain which it celebrates will bring on to the streets few joyous citizens but 8,000 gardai, 2,000 soldiers and 150 armed British police.

And most of us will suffer bouts of nervousness, finding the thought that "something might go wrong" beyond bearing. We should approach this magnificent occasion in a different frame of mind.

Monarchs and other eminent persons often have to endure, and put the best face on, periods of boredom. In Ireland, of all places, Elizabeth II need not be bored. She has a lifetime's curiosity to satisfy. And this little old lady with an encyclopaedic knowledge of bloodstock is always content when surrounded by horses.

There is every reason to expect that she will enjoy herself. We her hosts should put aside our misgivings, try to ignore the threats and the sealed manhole covers, and enjoy ourselves too.