Yesterday’s “Head to Head” in the Irish Times was on the topic of “Should Queen Elizabeth visit Ireland?”
Making the “Yes” case was Mary Kenny, while Charles Lysaght took the “No” side.
I found much of Lysaght’s argument to be indicative of someone caught in a time-warp. Here’s a couple of extracts:
“I have grave misgivings about Queen Elizabeth paying us a State visit, with all its panoply of parades and speeches.”
“A parade by the queen through our streets would provide an occasion for displays of enthusiasm by some who are all too likely to provoke the hostility of others.”
“The queen would doubtless be expected to apologise for British misdeeds, including the Famine, but not allowed to mention benefits we derived from the British connection.
She would probably not be allowed to voice British gratitude to the many Irish who served the empire, including those who in Churchill’s memorable words, “hastened to the battlefront to prove their ancient valour” in the second World War.
She would have to walk the tightrope of praising the achievements of modern Ireland without sounding patronising.”
It seems to me that Charles Lysaght envisages such a royal visit as something one would have seen in an old Pathe News black & white newsreel, reporting on the visit of the monarch to the grateful natives of a loyal colony in the 1920s or 1930s.
Can’t you see it - the Queen in a gilded open-top horse-drawn carriage, Prince Philip beside her in full dress naval uniform, chest covered in decorations and topped with a feathered admirals hat. Escorted by household cavalry outriders, all gleaming breastplates & helmets, long leather boots and drawn sabres, with her majesty waving to the happy flag-waving natives. Our Army No. 1 band, in their new Ruritanian uniforms, playing God save the Queen at every opportunity.
Royal Speech: “My husband and I are happy to be here in Eire among our contented former subjects blah blah blah”
If the queen does come, I imagine that it would be kept relatively low-key diplomatic affair with few banquets and set speeches (and none by John Bruton after his cringe-making tribute to Prince Charles). I can’t imagine her apologising for the famine or, indeed, making much reference to our shared history.
I think we should just get it over with.
Footnote: An abbreviated (by me)version published as a letter in the Irish Times.
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