Government Buildings staff applaud royal visitors


QUEEN ELIZABETH made a courtesy call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings yesterday on the second day of her State visit.

She later laid a wreath at the memorial to those Irish who died in the two World Wars at Islandbridge before travelling to Croke Park in the afternoon.

Many political leaders from Northern Ireland, including First Minister Peter Robinson, joined leading politicians from the Republic for the ceremony. The North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness declined an invitation, in line with Sinn Féin’s reservations about the royal visit.

A number of GAA county board chairmen from Ulster declined invitations to Croke Park, with Co Down the only one in the province to accept the invitation.

As on the first day of her visit, the intense security precautions meant the public got little opportunity to see the Queen, but she was greeted with applause whenever groups were permitted to get close.

At Government Buildings, the Queen and Prince Philip were greeted by Mr Kenny and his wife Fionnuala. Staff gathered in the courtyard outside the Department of the Taoiseach applauded as the royal couple arrived.

After posing for photographs with the Taoiseach and his wife in front of the Evie Hone stained-glass window, representing the four provinces of Ireland that frames the main staircase, the royal couple were given a brief tour and they signed the visitors’ book.

The foundation stone of Government Buildings was laid by King Edward VII in 1904. It was formally opened in 1911 by King George V, on the last occasion a British monarch visited Dublin.

The Taoiseach and Queen Elizabeth held a short meeting in his office and she signed the visitors’ book.

Afterwards the Taoiseach introduced the Queen to a number of his Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State as well as Attorney General Máire Whelan.

The royal couple were then shown the Great Charter Roll of Waterford, which dates back to 1372, by the director of the Waterford Museum of Treasures, Eamonn McEneaney.

It contains the earliest-known contemporary portraits of a medieval king of England, King Edward III, who lived from 1327 to 1377.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip spend some time looking at the charter and listening to Mr McEneaney explaining the background.

Dating from 1372 and measuring four metres in length, the parchment roll contains portraits of five medieval kings of England – Henry II, John, Henry III, Edward I and two contemporary portraits of Edward III.

Mr McEneaney said later he was told before the event that he would have just 30 seconds to explain about the charter.

Then he was told that he “had a little longer”. The Queen and Prince Philip lingered for some time over the charter asking questions.

“We kept expecting her to leave but she kept asking questions about it.

“She was thrilled that we had brought it up. She was very interested in it,” he said.

After viewing the parchment, the royal couple left Government Buildings to further applause from the staff and members of the public who had braved the security cordon around Merrion Street.