Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has called on Queen Elizabeth to return the six regimental flags of the former Irish bands that served in the British Army.
The flags of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Royal Munster Fusiliers, the Leinster Regiment, the Connaught Regiment, the Royal Irish Regiment and the South Irish Horse were laid up in St George’s Hall, Windsor Castle following Irish independence.
They were given to the Queen’s grandfather, King George V, who marked the disbandment at a formal ceremony at Windsor Castle on 12 June 1922.
Speaking at the time, the King said: “I fully realise with what grief you relinquish these dearly-prized emblems and I pledge my word that within these ancient and historic walls, your colours will be treasured, honoured and protected as hallowed memorials of the glorious deeds of brave and loyal regiments.”
Mr Ahern explained last week that he had tried to organise the return of the flags on a number of occasions while he was serving as Taoiseach.
“We had almost reached the point 15 years ago when they were to be returned to their rightful place,” he told an audience at the Island of Ireland Peace Park.
“Those flags are well-respected across the water, but it would be lovely to have them back.
“I still think it should be followed through. If we were to follow the line of symbolism, that would be number one.”
He added that a good time to hand back the flags would have been after the Queen’s state visit to Ireland back in 2011. Mr Ahern noted that another opportunity arose during Irish President Michael D. Higgins’ reciprocal visit to Britain in 2014, during which he went to see the flags at Windsor Castle.
The 65-year-old said that he had “rattled on for years” about the return of the flags but that he had only managed to get through to the relevant authority at Windsor Castle once.
At that time, he was told that the only person who could make the decision was “the good lady herself ”, referring to the Queen.
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