Tuesday, May 17, 2011

British queen makes historic peace trip to Ireland

British queen makes historic peace trip to Ireland
Undeterred by real and fake bombs, Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday began the first visit by a British monarch to the Republic of Ireland, a four-day trip to highlight strong Anglo-Irish relations and the success of Northern Ireland peacemaking.

Respendent in a cloak of emerald green and a dress of St. Patrick's blue, the 85-year-old queen stepped out from a bombproof, bulletproof Range Rover outside the official residence of Irish President Mary McAleese. Irish Army artillery units fired a 21-gun salute as a military brass band played "God Save the Queen."

The painstakingly choreographed visit has been designed to highlight today's exceptionally strong Anglo-Irish relations and the slow blooming of peace in neighboring Northern Ireland following a three-decade conflict that left 3,700 dead.

The queen arrived 100 years after her grandfather George V visited Dublin and an Ireland that was still part of the British Empire.

Beaming smiles by the queen and McAleese — a Belfast-born Catholic who has spent 14 years lobbying for Elizabeth II to visit — demonstrated genuine warmth between the two women, who have met several times before.

McAleese said Britain and Ireland were "determined to make the future a much, much better place." The queen didn't comment ahead of her planned speech Wednesday night at Dublin Castle, the former seat of British rule of Ireland.