President’s state visit trumped in British media by baby prince’s Australia trip

Guardian editorial stresses importance of ‘landmark visit’

President Michael D Higgins is applauded by his wife, Sabina, Higgins (second left), John Bercow (right), the speaker of the House of Commons, and Frances D’Souza, the speaker at the House of Lords, following his speech to the British parliament yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Lefteris Pitarakis

President Michael D Higgins is applauded by his wife, Sabina, Higgins (second left), John Bercow (right), the speaker of the House of Commons, and Frances D’Souza, the speaker at the House of Lords, following his speech to the British parliament yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Lefteris Pitarakis

Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 01:00


While the preview of the visit of President Michael D Higgins to Britain did not make the front page of any of the British newspapers yesterday, there was a continued presence on their websites through the day.

For much of the day the country’s media did not give the visit the same prominence as Irish news sites, with coverage appearing midway down their pages.

It was Duke of Cambridge Prince William’s baby, Prince George’s first royal tour in New Zealand and Australia that remained the hot topic of the day.

The Guardian ’s Henry McDonald did a profile on Ireland’s “poet president”, who he described as a “self-made man”.

His piece focused on the differences between Mr Higgins and the queen.

“Michael D Higgins has a lack of pomp and circumstance that is in sharp contrast to the Queen,” he wrote.

‘Landmark visit’
The Guardian ’s editorial spoke about the temptation of some Britons to “dismiss” the visit as a “sideshow”. The article stressed the importance of the “landmark visit”.

The BBC ran a live blog of the first visit made by an Irish head of State to Britain alongside stories of Mr Higgin’s speeches, many focused on Ireland’s “deep and enduring” friendship with Britain.

BBC correspondent Andy Martin wrote that the acceptance by Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of an invitation to the banquet was a clear indication that “relations have changed massively”.

However, the Daily Telegraph ’s Christopher Hope wrote about the families of IRA victims who protested outside the main gates of Windsor Castle yesterday at his invitation to the event.

‘Betrayal’ of IRA victims
“They said they were particularly upset that Mr McGuinness, a former IRA commander, was being welcomed to the dinner,” he wrote, adding that the families felt his presence at the dinner was a “betrayal of victims of IRA”.

A further analysis article in the Daily Telegraph reflected that the visit was a “key moment” in the healing process between our two countries.

It “marks the final official act of reconciliation between the two countries in the aftermath of the peace process”.