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President Higgins’s First State Visit to the Queen

Queen Elizabeth with the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins

By Adam Farley, Assistant Editor
June / July 2014

In April President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina made their first official state visit to Queen Elizabeth II – in fact the first official Irish state visit to the U.K. since the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Celebrated as a diplomatic success, the four-day visit included two banquets at Windsor Castle, the royal residence; a concert at Royal Albert Hall celebrating Irish culture; and a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Though the trip had its critics, both Irish and English, President Higgins implored everyone to “think of all the things we have in common.” He also insisted that the trip does not mean forcing reconciliation or white-washing the past, saying, “Proximity in fact hides the nuances that are there in both of our countries,” adding that Ireland would not “become involved in any amnesia about different events,” according to The Irish Times.

In a speech at the Windsor Castle banquet, the Queen emphasized similar points, referencing the success of her 2011 state visit to the Republic. “My visit to Ireland, and your visit this week, Mr President, show that we are walking together towards a brighter, more settled future. We will remember our past, but we shall no longer allow our past to ensnare our future. This is the greatest gift we can give to succeeding generations.”

One Response to “President Higgins’s First State Visit to the Queen”

  1. Sean Curtain says:

    I agree with Higgins when he says, “…all the things we [the Irish and the British] have in common”. The fact is that ALL residents of Ireland and its nearest neighbor to the east have much more in common with each other that they have with any nationality in the continent of Europe. But the artificial Border- imposed and maintained by Britain- that separates he parts of Ireland there will always be an obstacle to true friendship between the Irish and the British.

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