I WOULD like to commend my good friend Jim Shannon MP on his excellent letter in support of Her Majesty the Queen (Great pride in a selfless sovereign, Letters, June 6) on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee which was so jubilantly celebrated in London over the Diamond Jubilee weekend.
I was fortunate enough to have been in London for those celebrations and the mood among the people was electric.
Despite the difficulty and obvious distraction of the Duke of Edinburgh taking unwell and ending up in hospital, the Queen continued on unflinchingly.
Interestingly, I got speaking to a man and his wife from Dublin who had lived in London for 22 years and whose little daughters were wearing Union Jack ribbons in their hair. I also saw three ladies from the Republic of Ireland at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in the Mall who were brandishing a Union Flag each as they made their way towards the stage. That was refreshing to see and there were no political overtones to taint the celebrations in the capital as people from all over the world converged on the city to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
The situation was very different in Northern Ireland just before I left for my flight where I could hear a debate being held on the radio about flags and the usual contentions being aired about what divides us rather than what brings us together.
There is now speculation as to whether the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, will shake Her Majesty’s hand. After the Queen’s momentous gesture visiting Dublin, the mood of the Irish people is decidedly supportive of the British monarch and they no longer view the constitutional Head of State of the United Kingdom as a threat to their aspirations.
In fact, at this present time, it appears that Her Majesty – with her immaculate record of devotion to service and duty – has been a unifying factor of late, achieving something that many politicians could only dream of achieving.
Her Majesty will be visiting Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations at the end of this month and I am hoping that, just like in London, people from all walks of life – and from differing religious and political backgrounds – will show their undivided support for this exceptional personality who has graced the throne for over 60 years.
Let us welcome Her Majesty warmly and heartily and even wish her “Cead mile failte” – “A hundred thousand welcomes!”