There is something incredibly resonant about the images of the Queen arriving in the Republic of Ireland this afternoon. You have probably heard the facts by now — that she is the first British monarch to do so for 100 years, and the first since Irish independence — but they are no less striking. Against a backdrop of terror threats and of Britain’s participation in the country’s bailout, Queen Elizabeth II is making some kind of history today.
It is also, as Ed West says in a thoughtful post over at the Telegraph, a time for remembrance. He suggests that we remember the 300,000 Irishmen who fought in the Great War — and rightly so. But there is much more to commemorate, not least those who have lost their lives in the bitter struggles and recriminations since. We shall have the thoughts of someone who was caught up in a Dublin bomb blast on Coffee House later. So, for now, let’s look back on the last time a British monarch visited southern Ireland: George V in July 1911. I know we normally save these sorties into the Spectator archives for Fridays, but here’s a brief exception for the sake of both posterity and comparison:
News of the week, The Spectator, 15 July 1911
Last Saturday the King and Queen, accompanied by the Prince of Wales and Princess Mary, arrived at Dublin Castle for a visit of four days.