November 28, 2022

Queen Elizabeth’s 2011 Trip To Ireland Held Far More Significance Than You’d Expect

The world was forever changed after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. The queen’s coronation took place in 1953 when she was just 25 years old, and in February 2022, she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years as the Queen of England. With such a lengthy reign, the queen witnessed and took part in decades worth of historical events and proved herself time and time again an absolute pillar of society.

Queen Elizabeth II spent her years cultivating connections with world leaders and influential figures, creating lasting relationships and setting an example for the entire globe. The impact of the queen’s presence in Ireland on May 17, 2011, was so significant that it opened the doors of progress even wider for the repairing of the relationship between Ireland and the U.K. This was due in part because this four-day trip to Ireland was the first any British monarch had made since Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather King George V in 1911, according to Irish Central.

Tensions with Ireland had been high for decades prior to Queen Elizabeth II’s visit

Queen Elizabeth II took a four-day trip to Ireland in May 2011 at the invitation of former Irish President Mary McAleese (via The Guardian). The visit marked the first time a British monarch had been to Ireland in 100 years due to the tensions between the two countries. According to History, in 1979, members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army planted a bomb in the boat of British naval officer Lord “Dickie” Mountbatten and activated it as he and his family were out on the water. This group of Irish nationalists was responsible for another bombing that same day that killed 18 British soldiers on the Irish border. In 1998, the Belfast Agreement marked the end of what’s referred to as “The Troubles.”

After the 1998 agreement, it was still more than a decade before Queen Elizabeth II set foot in Ireland. However, the queen was given a warm welcome during her four-day trip to the country, and the visit is still considered to be successful in easing what tensions remained.

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The queen’s visit made history as it eased tensions between the two nations

During Queen Elizabeth II’s time in Ireland, she garnered support and was considered a driving force in the continued relationship building over a decade after the Belfast Agreement. According to Irish Central, the queen spoke a few words in Irish during her speech and expressed condolences and sympathy for the lives lost and affected by the years that were marked with violence. In 2014, Ireland President Michael Higgins visited the U.K. and furthered the nations’ healing relationship.

In a published version of Queen Elizabeth’s May 2011 speech on BBC, her sentiment can be felt throughout the entirety of her words but even more with her closing statement, “So we celebrate together the widespread spirit of goodwill and deep mutual understanding that has served to make the relationship more harmonious, close as good neighbors should always be.” The queen’s successful and renowned visit to Ireland after so many years of tension is a testament to the role she played in progressing positive relations with other nations.