The Queen’s Speech
Deaglán de Bréadún
There seems to be general satisfaction in official circles with the first day of the visit by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. There were protests but no clear and present danger to the British monarch and her husband. The wreath-laying at the Garden of Remembrance went off smoothly, despite the clashes taking place nearby between Gardai and demonstrators.
All eyes, or maybe ears, now focus on the dinner tomorrow night. Talk about “The King’s Speech” – it will be “The Queen’s Speech” holding centre-stage. As well as the usual and necessary pleasantries and generalities, one wonders if she will say something of real substance to consolidate what the two governments have achieved through their involvement in the peace process north of the Border?
Interesting that Sinn Fein leader, in his weekend statement to the Irish Examiner, was focusing so strongly on what the Queen might say to promote what he calls a “New Ireland” (good job John Hume didn’t take out copyright on that phrase.)
The Queen’s grandfather, George V, made a significant intervention in Anglo-Irish affairs in his speech at the opening of the Northern Ireland parliament at Belfast City Hall on 22 June 1921.
On that occasion, with behind-the-scenes encouragement from Lloyd George and South Africa’s General Jan Smuts, the King urged both sides in the War of Independence to “stretch out the hand of forbearance”.
That speech was quickly followed by a truce and subsequently the Anglo-Irish Treaty and an end to the conflict (except for the vicious Civil War that followed, of course).
Interesting to see if the Queen mentions this speech tomorrow night and if she attempts to provide some moral support for the power-sharing arrangements in the North with encouragement for both sides to “stick at it”.