British Queen concludes first day of historic Ireland visit

08:36, May 18, 2011      

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II concluded the first day of her four-day state visit to Ireland here on Tuesday afternoon.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the visit so far occurred when the British Queen laid a wreath at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance. The garden is a memorial to the Irish men and women who fought and died for freedom against British rule.

A wreath was also laid by Irish President Mary McAleese, and the national anthems of both nations were played. All those present, including incumbent Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, former Irish prime ministers, members of the Irish defense forces and selected media representatives, observed a minute of silence.

The visit to the Garden of Remembrance was the historic centerpiece of the first day of the visit by Queen Elizabeth II to the Irish Republic. It is the first time since the establishment of the Irish state in 1922 that a reigning British monarch has visited.

Dressed in emerald green, the Queen arrived with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh just before noon on Tuesday.

The first port-of-call for the visiting monarch was Aras an Uachtarain, the residence of Irish President McAleese. It was the invitation of McAleese and the success of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement that have led to the Queen's historic visit.

At Aras an Uachtarain, the Queen inspected a formal guard of honor by the Irish defense forces and signed the visitors book before planting an Irish oak tree in the garden.

The Queen's final engagement of the day was a visit to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland's oldest university. The university in fact owes its existence to Queen Elizabeth I from the 16th century, a distant relative of the current monarch.

The visit to the university reflects one of the essential themes of the Queen's trip -- to display the shared history of both countries. The Queen was shown the university's library, which contains 4.5 million books, the most famous of them being a ninth century Bible manuscript, the Book of Kells.

The Queen's visit has been widely supported throughout the country and Dublin's O'Connell Street was packed with supporters. But with the recent killing of a police officer in Britain's Northern Ireland and an increase in the overall threat posed by dissident paramilitaries, the largest security operation in the history of the country has been put in place to ensure the Queen's safety.

There were some brief scuffles in Dublin between police officers and those protesting against the Queen's visit, and several arrests were made.

The Queen's trip will continue on Wednesday with perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the itinerary. It is planned that the Queen will visit Croke Park, the home of Gaelic sports in Ireland and the site of the massacre of 14 Irish people by British troops in 1920.

And on Wednesday evening, there will be a formal banquet in Dublin Castle where the Queen will deliver her only speech of the trip.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
     
 
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