Lodge Life: Speech fit for a King goes on public display

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An original print of a speech made by King William III over three centuries ago has gone on public display in Co Londonderry.

The historical item, on loan to the Orange Heritage Centre in Limavady, contains the words of the monarch to Parliament at Whitehall in 1689, ahead of the Battle of the Boyne a year later.

The artefact is the latest significant addition to the developing collection at the north-west facility, which already includes stirrups belonging to King William, and other objects from the period.

In his address, King William states: “The only reason that induced me to undergo so great an undertaking, was, that I saw the laws and liberties of these Kingdoms overturned, and the Protestant religion in eminent danger; and seeing you are here so many Noblemen and Gentlemen, I have called you together, that I may have your advice, what is to be done for securing the Protestant religion, and restoring your laws and liberties, according to my declaration.”

Orange historian and curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr Jonathan Mattison, explained it was through such speeches during the Glorious Revolution, King William outlined his rationale for accepting the invitation to take the throne of the British Isles.

He said: “Despite assurance that he would be received with overwhelming support, William was determined to ensure that his arrival was not seen as the supplanting of a ‘homegrown’ monarch with a ‘foreign’ king.

“As a consequence, he and his wife Mary embarked on a significant propaganda campaign through the press and other publications, to explain their motives and, above all, emphasising that they were coming to defend the civil and religious liberties of the population.”

Mr Mattison maintains the new joint monarchy continued to “curry favour” with the establishment.

“The item on loan to Limavady highlights one of those initiatives, as William III demonstrated his credentials to leading political representatives from Scotland. This was important as the Stuarts had a significant power base in Scotland, a support that would see the creation of a Jacobite Highland army as the dethroned James attempted to retake his throne.

“At this stage many of the political elites are trying to ensure that the transition from King James II to the joint monarchy under William III and Mary II is as smooth as possible – thus averting a civil war.

“Such political horse trading and reassurance would work in England, but warfare soon broke out across Ireland and Scotland.”

Boyd Douglas, trustee, said: “We are proud at Limavady Orange Heritage Centre to add to our growing collection with this excellent item from the Williamite period. This item has been kindly loaned to us and we thank the owner of this item at this time for placing this item with us.”

Limavady heritage centre is open to the public on Wednesday and Saturday from 10am to 3pm. For more information and group bookings, visit the dedicated website at www.limavadyorange.com.