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May 17, 2011 / catherinebwrites


I’ve just seen Queen lay a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance and, to my total surprise, I burst into tears.

When I first heard that Queen Elizabeth the Second of England was coming to Ireland on a State Visit I didn’t think much about it. I was happy that she had been invited, it suggested that as a nation we were growing up and , in view of the history between the two countries I knew it was significant but I wasn’t going to be standing on the streets hoping for a glimpse. Personally I find the whole idea of royalty a hint medieval but, if other countries want it, fair dues. I hoped there would be no trouble from republican hot-heads who enjoy hurling insults and petrol bombs. Then I thought no more about it.

I had a late lunch to-day and I turned on the t.v. for a little distraction and there was the Garden of Remembrance and a voice was telling me that the Queen was expected in minutes so I stayed for a look. She arrived with Mary McAleese and stood in front of the sculpture of the Children of Lir. I though Mary looked a bit sober in black but the Queen looked her usual neat self in a pretty coat cutaway coat and signature hat. The army officer gave commands, the soldiers presented arms, the band played God Save the Queen. God love her I thought she must be bored out of her tree. But the Queen is an old hand at memorials and military events I knew she’d be fine.

Then she took a wreath and laid in front of the memorial sculpture and that’s when it hit me. She was laying a wreath for the men and women who had opposed her predecessors. I was watching history, the good kind , where people get reconciled. I remembered than that the sculpture of the Children of Lir is about transformation and that the mosaic in the memorial pond is of arms abandoned forever. Then they played our national anthem. I had been reared on the “seven hundred years of slavery”, “the glories of 1916” and the “evils” of the British Crown and there, in front of my eyes was the English Queen standing for our national Anthem. It felt to me like a balm, a blessing and a resolution.

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