Death of Queen Elizabeth: King Charles III and Camilla visit Northern Ireland as thousands of mourners march past the Queen’s coffin
King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the Queen consort, arrived in Northern Ireland on Tuesday as thousands continue to file past the Queen’s coffin lying in state in Edinburgh.
This is Charles’ first trip to Northern Ireland as the UK’s new monarch, following in the footsteps of his mother, who is seen as a symbol of union and an important figure in the Northern Ireland peace process. .
Tuesday’s historic visit saw the King arrive at the royal residence, Hillsborough Castle, where he greeted the public and watched the floral tributes. There he will meet the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, and the leaders of the biggest political parties in Northern Ireland.
After a reception at the castle, the King and Queen Consort will attend an afternoon prayer and reflection service at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. They will also be presented to religious and community leaders across Northern Ireland. More than 800 people are expected for the religious service.
His visit comes at a difficult time for Northern Ireland, where political tensions are high and key issues around Brexit remain unresolved.
As the majority of the country voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum, the UK’s ruling Conservative party signed a Brexit deal that created new customs barriers between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
Queen Elizabeth II was the monarch for 70 years out of Northern Ireland’s 101 year history.
She was queen during the bloody 30 years of violence known as ‘The Troubles’, which pitted British unionists against Irish nationalists, with the British crown emblematic of all that divided the province.
Unionists are loyal to the Crown and the traditional British values they believe it enshrines. For Irish nationalists, it is the symbol of the British forces that subjugated their ancestors and annexed their land.
Louis Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy in India and Charles’s favorite great-uncle, was assassinated by Irish Republicans along with several of his grandchildren in 1979.
The Queen publicly set aside those differences during a visit to Northern Ireland in 2012, shaking hands with Martin McGuinness, one of the Republicans most associated with past violence.
Charles also shook hands with Gerry Adams in 2015, seen as another milestone in the fragile peace process as Adams had long been associated with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), once considered the armed wing of Sinn Fein. which is now the largest party in the North. Ireland.
Sinn Fein, the nationalist party which is pushing for a united Ireland, did not attend King Charles’ proclamation on Sunday at Hillsborough Castle.
The King and Queen consort left Scotland for Northern Ireland on Tuesday morning. In Edinburgh, mourners lined up outside St. Giles Cathedral on Monday evening to pay their respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II inside the cathedral.
The cathedral will remain open to the public until 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) on Tuesday, after which the Queen’s coffin will be flown to London before being taken to Buckingham Palace to rest in the Bow Room overnight .
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