King Charles III and Camilla visit Northern Ireland as thousands of mourners file past Queen’s coffin

This is Charles’ first visit to Northern Ireland as the new monarch of the United Kingdom, following in the footsteps of his mother, who was seen as a symbol of the Union and an important figure during the Northern Ireland peace process.

On Tuesday’s historic visit, the king reached Hillsborough Castle, the royal residence, where he greeted the public and laid wreaths. There he met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, and the leaders of Northern Ireland’s largest political parties.

Charles and Camilla received a condolence message from the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alex Maski, to which the King replied: “Since she began her long life of public service, my mother has seen Northern Ireland go through significant and historic changes. During all those years, he never stopped praying for the best time for this place and its people.”

King Charles said he would follow his mother’s example in “dedicating himself to his country and his people and upholding the principles of constitutional government”.

After the reception at the palace, the King and Queen consort arrived at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast for afternoon prayer and contemplation. They will be introduced to faith and community leaders from across Northern Ireland. More than 800 people are expected to attend the religious service, which was also attended by UK Prime Minister Liz Truss.

His visit comes at an uncomfortable moment for Northern Ireland, where political tensions are high and major issues surrounding Brexit remain unresolved.

While the majority of the country voted to remain in the EU in a 2016 referendum, the UK’s ruling Conservative Party signed a Brexit deal that created new customs barriers between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

How Her Majesty's Soft Power Has Helped Keep the United Kingdom Together

Queen Elizabeth II was monarch for 70 years of Northern Ireland’s 101 year history.

She was queen during the 30 bloody years of violence known as “The Troubles”, which pitted British federalists against Irish nationalists, with the British Crown symbolizing the division of the province.

Federalists are loyal to the Crown and to the traditional British values ​​they believe are rooted in. For Irish nationalists, it symbolizes the British forces that subjugated their ancestors and occupied their lands.

Louis Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India and Charles’ favorite great-uncle, was assassinated by Irish Republicans in 1979, along with several of his grandchildren.

The Queen publicly put aside those differences during a 2012 visit to Northern Ireland, shaking the hand of Martin McGuinness, one of the Republicans most associated with past violence.
Charles also joined hands with Gerry Adams in 2015, which was seen as another milestone in the delicate peace process as Adams had long been associated with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), once considered Sinn Féin’s armed wing. , which is now the largest party in the North. Ireland.

Sinn Fein, the nationalist party pushing for a united Ireland, did not attend King Charles’ announcement at Hillsborough Castle on Sunday. The King and the Queen Consort will return to London later on Tuesday.

People queue to see the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as she rests in St. Giles;  Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.
King Charles III, center, and other members of the Royal Family stand guard at the Queen's coffin in St. Giles;  Cathedral on Monday.

In Edinburgh, mourners queued outside St Giles’ Cathedral on Monday evening to pay tribute to the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II inside the cathedral.

The queue of the cathedral was closed to the public on Tuesday afternoon. Later in the day, the Queen’s coffin is expected to be taken out of St Giles and taken to London to rest overnight at Buckingham Palace.

The Scottish government said more than 26,000 people had the chance to pay their last respects to the Queen.

To receive updates about the British royal family sent to your inbox, Sign up for CNN’s Royal News newsletter,

CNN’s Nick Robertson and Max Foster contributed to this report.

Source link