London: Queen Elizabeth II will visit to the
Republic of Ireland later this year, the first ruling British
monarch to visit the country in a century.
It`s a highly symbolic visit by the 84-year-old queen,
who Buckingham Palace said would be accompanied by her
husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. No specific date was given for
King George V spent six days in Dublin in 1911, when
Britain and Ireland were united under a single crown. Ireland
won its independence in 1922, but relations between Ireland
and Britain were poisoned by continuous arguments and fighting
over the fate of Northern Ireland, which remained part of the
Hundreds were killed as the Irish Republican Army fought
unsuccessfully to wrest the province from British control over
three decades known as "The Troubles." Lord Louis Mountbatten,
an uncle of Prince Philip, the queen`s husband, was killed in
1979 when the IRA blew up his yacht near his castle in County
Sligo, western Ireland.
The 1998 Good Friday peace accord, which gave Northern
Ireland a measure of self-government, went a long way toward
healing the rift.
British Ambassador Julian King said the invitation
"symbolizes how far the relationship has come in recent years;
the strength of our economic and political ties; and the
progress that has been made in Northern Ireland. "
"The visit will provide an excellent opportunity to
celebrate this, and build on the rich and varied links that
exist across these islands," he said today.
Royals have visited the Irish Republic before. Prince
Charles, the eldest son of the queen, led the way with a 1995
visit to Dublin and another in 2002. Prince Philip made an
official visit to Dublin in 1998 and 2006.
Today`s announcement came a week after Irish voters dealt
the ruling Fianna Fail party a historic loss, the worst in
nearly 80 years, and put the opposition Fine Gael party in