King Charles pledges to support ALL people of Northern Ireland
King Charles pledged himself to supporting ALL people of Northern Ireland and that he would follow the Queen’s “shining example” when he became the first British king to set foot in Northern Ireland for 77 years.
It was Charles’s 40th visit to Northern Ireland, but his first as monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II last visited Northern Ireland in 2016.
She made her first official visit to the region as Princess Elizabeth in 1945 alongside her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as part of a “Victory Tour” following the Second World War.
Addressing politicians at Hillsborough Castle in County Down, the King said: “My mother felt deeply, I know, the significance of the role she herself played in bringing together those whom history had separated, and in extending a hand to make possible the healing of long-held hurts.
“At the very beginning of her life of service, the Queen made a pledge to dedicate herself to her country and her people and to maintain the principles of constitutional government.
“This promise she kept with steadfast faith. Now, with that shining example before me, and with God’s help, I take up my new duties resolved to seek the welfare of all the inhabitants of Northern Ireland.”
The new King said that his mother never ceased to pray for the best of times for the people of Northern Ireland, “whose sorrows our family had felt” — a reference to the death of Earl Mountbatten in 1979.
Mountbatten, Charles’s great-uncle and close confidant, and three others were killed by the IRA on his fishing boat in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo.
In 2015 Charles, the Prince of Wales, made a pilgrimage to the site of Mountbatten’s murder in an IRA bombing.
He said the Queen had “never ceased to pray for the best of times for this place and its people”.
Speaking at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down the new monarch said the late Queen was aware of her position in bringing together divided communities “whom history had separated”.
Accompanied by the Queen Consort, Camilla, Charles landed at Belfast City Airport just before midday where he was greeted by new Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and the lord lieutenant of Belfast Dame Fionnuala Mary Jay-O’Boyle.
King and Queen, Charles and Camilla, took some time to meet people who had gathered outside Hillsborough Castle since the early hours and viewed some of the thousands of floral tributes.
A gun salute was fired as they arrived.
“My mother felt deeply, I know, the significance of the role she
herself played in bringing together those whom history had separated
At Hillsborough Castle Charles received a message of condolence on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland from the speaker of the Stormont Assembly, Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey.
In his message of condolences Mr Maskey said over the years of the queen’s reign there had been painstaking efforts to build peace in Northern Ireland.
He said: “Queen Elizabeth was not a distant observer in the transformation and progress of relationships in and between these islands.
“She showed that a small and insignificant gesture – a visit, a handshake, crossing the street or speaking a few words of Irish – can make a huge difference in changing attitudes and building relationships.”
The Queen’s recognition of both British and Irish traditions, as well as the wider diversity of the community was “exceptionally significant”.
He added: “In all of this she personally underlined that one tradition is not diminished by reaching out to show respect to another.”
King Charles offered “heartfelt thanks” for the expressions of sympathy on the death of his “beloved mother”.
He said: “Through all those years, she never ceased to pray for the best of times for this place and for its people, whose stories she knew, whose sorrows our family had felt, and for whom she had a great affection and regard.
“My mother felt deeply, I know, the significance of the role she herself played in bringing together those whom history had separated, and in extending a hand to make possible the healing of long-held hurts.
“Now, with that shining example before me, and with God’s help, I take up my new duties resolved to seek the welfare of all the inhabitants of Northern Ireland.”
The king also met the leaders of the five largest parties at Stormont, including Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill.
President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney were at the service in memory of Queen Elizabeth in Belfast’s Anglican cathedral, St Anne’s.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss was also present as were leaders of the main churches in Ireland.
After the service they returned to London to meet Queen Elizabeth’s coffin which is being flown from Scotland by the RAF.
The coffin will rest in Buckingham Palace overnight before being taken in a procession to Westminster Hall to lie in state for four days before the funeral.
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