Political leaders wish Queen well after Northern Ireland visit cancelled

Political leaders have wished the Queen well following the cancellation of her visit to Northern Ireland this week.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:59 pm

The Queen had been due to arrive in Hillsborough, County Down, on Wednesday where she was scheduled to meet with locals including schoolchildren after the village was officially named Royal Hillsborough.

It was the first village or town in Northern Ireland to be granted royal status.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Irish President Mary McAleese arrive at the Garden of Remembrance where they laid wreaths to honour the dead in May 2011.

The Queen was also due to attend a church service in Armagh on Thursday to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland’s formation.

But the trip was cancelled after the Queen “reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days”, Buckingham Palace said.

The Queen, 95, is said to be in good spirits but disappointed not to be able to carry out the two-day trip.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis tweeted: “Wishing Her Majesty The Queen all the very best as she takes a few days’ rest. I look forward to meeting her in Northern Ireland in the future.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also tweeted his best wishes.

“We thank Her Majesty for her good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland and trust that she will keep well and benefit from a period of rest,” he tweeted.

“It is always a joy to have Her Majesty in Royal Hillsborough and we look forward to a further visit in the near future.”

The church service in Armagh became the centre of a row last month after the president of Ireland Michael D Higgins declined an invitation to attend because he believed it was not politically neutral.

The Irish government will be represented at the service by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and chief whip Jack Chambers.

The prayer service has been organised by the four main churches in Northern Ireland.

Church leaders expressed sorrow after learning the Queen would not be attending.

“We are very sorry to learn that it will not be possible for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be present for the Service of Reflection and Hope in Armagh tomorrow,” they said in a statement.

“We wish to convey to Her Majesty our good wishes and, in doing so, to acknowledge the significance of her commitment to the work of peace and reconciliation, which has meant a great deal to people throughout this island.

“We hope that tomorrow’s service will provide an opportunity to further that work, with an emphasis on our shared hopes for the future.”

The statement was signed by Presbyterian Moderator David Bruce, Church of Ireland Primate John McDowell, Catholic Primate Eamon Martin, President of the Irish Council of Churches Ivan Patterson and President of the Methodist Church in Ireland Sahr Yambasu.

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