Queen sends her 'best wishes' to Ireland ahead of St Patrick's Day

Queen sends her 'best wishes' to Ireland ahead of St Patrick's Day


Queen sends ‘congratulations and best wishes’ to people of Ireland ahead of St Patrick’s Day tomorrow – as hundreds of extra police are deployed in Belfast to shut down illegal parties

  • Queen sends ‘best wishes’ to Irish President Michael Higgins and Irish people
  • She also made mention of her 2011 trip to Ireland, which she remembers ‘fondly’ 
  • Mr Higgins responds by offering ‘warmest appreciation for your good wishes’
  • The message was sent ahead of St Patrick’s day, which takes place tomorrow 
  • It comes as PSNI bring in hundreds of extra officers ahead of St Patrick’s Day 

The Queen has today extended her warm wishes to the Irish people ahead of St Patrick’s day – as police bring in hundreds of extra officers to crackdown on Covid rulebreakers.

In a touching message emphasising the importance of family and partnership, Her Majesty conveyed her ‘best wishes’ to the Irish President Michael D Higgins and the people of Ireland.

The Queen also made mention of her historic 2011 visit to Ireland – a trip she said she remembered ‘fondly’. 

Ahead of St Patrick’s Day, tomorrow, her message read: ‘On the occasion of your National Day, I would like to convey to Your Excellency my congratulations, together with my best wishes to the people of Ireland.

The Queen has today extended her warm wishes to the Irish people ahead of St Patrick’s day – as police bring in hundreds of extra officers to crackdown on Covid rulebreakers. Pictured: The Queen meets with Irish President Michael D Higgins

In a touching message emphasising the importance of family and partnership, Her Majesty conveyed her ‘best wishes’ to the Irish President Michael D Higgins (pictured with the Queen at Windsor) and the people of Ireland

The Queen shared the message (pictured) on social media ahead of St Patrick’s Day tomorrow

A historic moment in diplomatic relations between the UK and Ireland: The Queen’s famous 2011 visit

Queen Elizabeth II became the first British Monarch to visit Ireland for a century when she made the short trip across the Irish sea in 2011.

Her grandfather George V was the last King to visit in 1911 before the Republic had secured independence.

But diplomatic tension and the threat of terrorism from the IRA meant a royal visit was off limits.

However, the Queen had long desired the chance to one day visit Ireland.

Prior to her 2011 visit, the Queen is said to have told former Irish President Mary Robinson that one of her lifelong wishes was to attend the races in Ireland.

Her visit came following drastically improved diplomatic relations between Westminster and Dublin, following the historic Good Friday Northern Ireland peace agreement in 1998.

During the four day visit, she famously paid a fashion tribute to her Irish hosts by wearing a long green coat as she ended her state visit.

And in a moment of history, she shared a handshake with then mayor of Cashel, Michael Browne – from the staunchly republican Sinn Fein party.

She toured the majestic Rock of Cashel, imposing ancient ruins perched on a hill on the outskirts of the Co Tipperary town, visited the National Stud Farm in Kildare and Croke Park in Dublin.

And, on a quarter mile stretch of Cork city’s Washington Street, bakers, taxi drivers, teachers, waitresses, students, estate agents and shop workers lined the route for hours to catch a glimpse of her and the Duke of Edinburgh. 

During a speech she acknowledged the ‘sad and regrettable’ history between Britain and Ireland.

The speech is regarded as one of her most diplomatically important of her reign.

Though the Queen was widely welcomed by the Irish people, not all were impressed, including then Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

During the 2011 visit, he said the Irish people were ‘disappointed’ because Queen did not apologise for British involvement in Northern Ireland.

‘This year marks ten years since my visit to Ireland, which I remember fondly, and it marks a significant centenary across these islands.

‘We share ties of family, friendship and affection – the foundation of our partnership that remains as important today as ten years ago.

She signed off in the Irish language: ‘La Fheile Padraig sona daoibh go leir.’

In response Mr Higgins extended his ‘warmest appreciation for your good wishes on our national day’ and described her 2011 visit as a ‘moment of healing’. 

Mr Higgins said: ‘Your special memory of your visit to Ireland ten years ago this year, is one that is shared and invoked regularly by all of us in Ireland, being as it was in its generosity of spirit such a moment of healing.

‘It has done so much to deepen our shared sense of the breadth and vibrancy of the connection between our two countries at every level.

‘It will continue to inspire the achievement of those possibilities in the future that we might share.’

He said St Patrick’s Day would be celebrated in the hearts of generations of Irish people who have made their home in Britain, and their British friends and family, as well as by the many British people who have happily made their home in Ireland.

‘I know that the movement and circulation of our peoples is a source of continuing joy for us both,’ he added.

Mr Higgins ended his message in Irish, wishing the Queen and her family a happy and peaceful St Patrick’s Day: ‘Guim La Fheile Padraig sona agus siochanta ort agus ar do mhuintir’.

It comes as hundreds of extra police officers will be on duty for a ‘robust’ response to St Patrick’s Day rule breakers.

The country is currently under the Irish Government’s toughest Covid measures – Level 5.

Much like the UK, the rules include an order to stay at home, except for work, education or other essential reasons and exercise. They are set to stay in place until April 5.

Substantial numbers of police will patrol beauty spots and the Holylands in Belfast to break up house parties.

Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) assistant chief constable Alan Todd said people knew the rules and those breaking them could expect to face stiff fines.

He said: ‘The four Es approach starts now.

‘If people breach that…then they can expect a robust response.’

The four Es stands for the graduated policing response adopted during the pandemic including engaging, explaining and encouraging before enforcing.

Mr Todd said people who had been fined before risked even tougher penalties.

The Queen visited Ireland a decade ago in 2011 – in what was the first visit by a British monarch in 100 years

During the historic 2011 visit, the Queen was shown around Croke Park stadium in Dublin 

The Queen also made mention of her visit to Ireland a decade ago – a trip she said she remembered ‘fondly’ (pictured: The Queen during her trip to Ireland in 2011)

Queen Elizabeth visits The Garden Of Remembrance In Dublin during the state visit to Ireland

He added wrongdoing like drinking in public places was enforceable even without the coronavirus regulations in place.

Prince Harry and William have first talk since Oprah interview, Meghan’s friend says  

Prince Harry has spoken to his brother William and father Charles for the first time following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle’s friend Gayle King revealed today.

The CBS presenter, who attended Meghan’s $500,000 baby shower in 2019, said she spoke to the Sussexes who told her that Harry had talked to the Duke of Cambridge and Prince of Wales over the weekend.

But she said the conversations were ‘not productive’ and the Sussexes were keen for the ‘royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant’.

Ms King, 66, who is also close friends with Oprah, failed to give any examples of the stories she was referring to, but added that Meghan has ‘documents to back up everything that she said on Oprah’s interview’.

If Ms King is correct about the details of the chat, William and Charles are likely to be appalled at it being leaked to a US media personality – with royal experts pointing out that senior royals are unlikely to want to talk to the Sussexes if they just pass on information to a friend who then reveals it in the American media.

She told CBS This Morning: ‘Well I’m not trying to break news, but I did actually call them to see how they were feeling, and it’s true, Harry has talked to his brother and he has talked to his father too. The word I was given was that those conversations were not productive. But they are glad that they have at least started a conversation.

‘And I think what is still upsetting to them is the palace keep saying they want to work it out privately, but yet, they believe these false stories are coming out that are very disparaging against Meghan, still. No one in the Royal Family has talked to Meghan yet, at this particular time. And I think it’s frustrating for them to see that it’s a racial conversation about the Royal Family when all they wanted all along was for the royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant.

‘And until you can acknowledge that, I think it’s going to be hard to move forward. But they both want to move forward with this and they both want healing in this family. At the end of the day, that is Harry’s family.’

‘My concern is about people breaching the regulations and posing a risk to wider community health. We will act proportionately and with necessity.’

The heightened operation will run from early morning on Wednesday through to the early hours of Thursday morning.

Mr Todd said it would be a significant operation. He said: ‘We will have our normal deployments for normal calls and services. The other effort is on top of that.

‘It is a substantial policing operation, it will run to the hundreds of officers.’

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride has told those holding parties for St Patrick’s Day to ‘wise up’.

And he urged those planning celebrations to think about families grieving the loss of a loved one to coronavirus.

Police have already broken up gatherings in the Holyland area of south Belfast ahead of St Patrick’s Day.

Also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, the event is a cultural and religious celebration held each year on March 17 – the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. 

Celebrations usually include public parades and festivals, while Christians may also attend church services.

Mr Todd said he did not want to see large crowds gathering in one place because that posed particular risks of young people bringing Covid-19 home to unvaccinated parents.

He said: ‘We all have our personal experience through the pandemic.

‘We have seen some challenges for people’s adherence to the regulations in recent times.

‘There has been a lot of personal sacrifice for the best part of the year, people are missing their friends and their social life.

‘We are coming out of a long winter and all hope for better times.’

By not adhering to the regulations those better times could be jeopardised, the senior officer warned, and urged people to show discipline now and through the Easter holidays.

Mr Todd added: ‘The risks are that the very thing we want is postponed.’

He said some people had ‘flagrantly’ breached regulations in the past.

He added fixed penalty notices very rarely progressed to arrest unless the behaviour continued.

Mr Todd added: ‘What we have seen on St Patrick’s Day on a small number of occasions where people break the public order and criminal law by their behaviour.

‘Quite a lot of it is about drinking in public places, indecent behaviour.

‘All of that remains a challenge on St Patrick’s Day and we won’t be shying away from that either.’ 

Ireland appears to be in the process of exiting its third and worst Covid wave.

The country, of almost 5million people, has seen more than 227,000 cases of Covid so far, with more than 4,500 deaths.

At the height of its worst wave, on January 8 this year, there were more than 8,200 new Covid cases recorded. Yesterday, the country recorded just 500 new cases.

Prince Philip, 99, in ‘good spirits’ and waves as he arrives at Windsor Castle to be reunited with the Queen 

The Duke of Edinburgh arrived back at Windsor Castle today after leaving hospital following a month under the care of medical staff after being admitted with an infection and later undergoing heart surgery.

Prince Philip, 99, the nation’s longest-serving consort, spent 28 nights as a patient in London at King Edward VII’s Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital – his longest ever stay. Philip was initially admitted on a precautionary basis for an infection, before having a heart operation midway through his four-week period in hospital.

The ‘Iron Duke’ was photographed leaving King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marylebone at about 10.30am today, with screens obscuring him in a wheelchair for the most part, before getting into a car and being driven away. 

Philip, who is set to celebrate his 100th birthday in June, headed to Windsor Castle to be reunited with the Queen after a month without seeing her, arriving within less than an hour. Sources said the Duke was in ‘good spirits’. 

Philip, who is set to celebrate his 100th birthday in June, pictured waving while heading to Windsor Castle to be reunited with the Queen

Prince Charles, who was visiting a pop-up coronavirus vaccination centre at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London this afternoon, said he was delighted that his father was out of hospital, revealing: ‘I am thrilled about it.’ When asked if he had spoken to Philip yet, Charles replied: ‘Oh yes, I have spoken to him several times.’

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said in a statement issued at about 11.45am today: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh has today been discharged from King Edward VII’s Hospital and has returned to Windsor Castle, following treatment for an infection and a successful procedure for a pre-existing condition.

‘His Royal Highness wishes to thank all the medical staff who looked after him at both King Edward VII’s Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, and everyone who has sent their good wishes.’

The Duke was initially taken by car to King Edward VII’s Hospital on February 16, after telling his doctor he felt unwell. But two weeks later he was moved to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London by ambulance. 

The Duke of Edinburgh leaves King Edward VII’s Hospital in London today following a month of treatment by medical staff

Philip will have much to catch up on with the Queen following a dramatic week that saw the Duke and Duchess of Sussex plunge the monarchy into a crisis by accusing a member of the Royal Family of racism – not the Queen or Philip – and claiming that Meghan Markle received no support with her mental health problems. 

The Duke of Edinburgh underwent a successful procedure on a pre-existing heart condition at Barts on March 3, before returning to King Edward VII’s Hospital a few days later to recuperate and continue his treatment. 

Philip was visited in King Edward VII’s Hospital on February 20 by the Prince of Wales, who made a 200-mile round trip from his Gloucestershire home and stayed for about 30 minutes.

The news Philip had left hospital was welcomed by royal experts, including Phil Dampier, author of Prince Philip: A Lifetime of Wit and Wisdom, who tweeted: ‘Fantastic news. Prince Philip has left hospital after nearly a month. On to the ton!’

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