The Queen of England said that her ‘very best ever’ state visit was the one she made to Ireland in 2011.
Former Irish President Mary McAleese appeared on the Late Late Show in 2020 and revealed that she received a call from the Queen’s deputy private secretary as soon as they arrived back in the UK.
She said that the Queen had been delighted with her visit.
When Queen Elizabeth II visited in 2011, there were worries from some quarters on both sides of the Irish Sea that it could incite trouble.
It was the first time for 100 years that a British monarch had made an official state visit to Ireland.
However, both the Irish and British were desperately hoping that the visit would be well received and that it could be a catalyst for positive relationship between the two countries moving forward.
McAleese said: “She didn’t come as a grand visitor from next door she did come as a very humble reconciler.”
During her stay, the Queen attended a state dinner in Dublin Castle. She gave a speech at the dinner which she began in Gaelic, saying ‘A Úachtárain agus a chairde’ – which means Presidents and friends. It was a gesture that McAleese appreciated.
She also went to the national garden of remembrance, where she paid tribute to those who were killed by the British during the fight for Irish Independence.
McAleese told the Late Late Show: “She did love that visit. I know that because when she left, we got, the minute her plane touched down when she took off from Cork Airport after four amazing days, the minute her plane touched down her deputy private secretary rang us immediately to say that she had said on the plane that it was her very best ever state visit.
“She was delighted, she was so happy.”
At the time, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said: “The visit has gone very, very well and has been great for the country.”
McAleese said that the Queen had wanted to visit Ireland throughout her reign, and that it had been a great regret that she had been unable to do so for such a long time.
She added: “Her greatest regret was that she had never been to the Republic of Ireland.
“I think she said that she had 25 horses trained here but it was the fact that she had never been able to come here. This rankled with her.”
Back in 2016, McAleese said that the Queen’s visit had transformed relations between Ireland and the UK.
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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling