AS we look back on Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour of Ulster, we can do so with pride and joy.
Northern Ireland should be proud to have welcomed Her Majesty back to a very different and improved society than when she visited during her Silver Jubilee tour.
This was just like a Royal visit to any other part of the realm – only better. Everywhere she went, thousands of people got the opportunity to greet their monarch and demonstrate their affection for Her Majesty.
Indeed, across the Province there are now thousands of treasured memories and photographs.
The tone was set by the people in Enniskillen. There were young and old gathered from North and South. Many arrived in the early hours to secure their viewing point. Their enthusiasm was infectious.
It was also fitting that the service of thanksgiving was held in the most western cathedral in the United Kingdom.
Indeed, while many focused on the public events in Fermanagh, we shouldn’t forget those in Belleek Pottery who carefully crafted the unique gift which the Executive gave to Her Majesty to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
The tens of thousands who lined the Stormont Estate delivered an unparalleled expression of affection and fidelity.
The images of that day were iconic and historic. Among the crowd were those from all faiths and none.
It is testament to the unifying nature of Her Majesty that she could unite such a crowd in celebration.
While in the media much focus was on one handshake, for most people in Northern Ireland it wasn’t about a less than six-second event but the opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for 60 active years of Her Majesty’s service to our nation.
In this respect, some commentators had the wrong focus.
We also pay tribute to the fortitude and dedication of not just Her Majesty the Queen, but also to the Duke of Edinburgh as they fulfil an arduous round of public duties, particularly in this Jubilee year.
We give thanks for six decades of inspiration, steadfastness and wise counsel and pray for many more years ahead.
This Royal visit and the event at Stormont were a great demonstration of the progress that we have made as a society.
While security concerns had previously limited those who were able to see Her Majesty, I’m glad that times have changed and thousands of people were able to enjoy this visit.