Political leaders wish Queen well after Northern Ireland visit cancelled

·4-min read
The Queen was due to meet with school children during her visit (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Wire)
The Queen was due to meet with school children during her visit (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Wire)

Political and church leaders have wished the Queen well following the cancellation of her visit to Northern Ireland this week.

The Queen had been due to arrive in Hillsborough, County Down, on Wednesday where she was scheduled to meet with locals, including schoolchildren, after the village was officially named Royal Hillsborough.

It was the first village or town in Northern Ireland to be granted royal status.

The Queen was also due to attend a church service in Armagh on Thursday to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland’s formation.

But the trip was cancelled after the Queen “reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days”, Buckingham Palace said.

The Queen, 95, is said to be in good spirits but disappointed not to be able to carry out the two-day trip.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis tweeted: “Wishing Her Majesty The Queen all the very best as she takes a few days’ rest. I look forward to meeting her in Northern Ireland in the future.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also tweeted his best wishes.

“We thank Her Majesty for her good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland and trust that she will keep well and benefit from a period of rest,” he tweeted.

“It is always a joy to have Her Majesty in Royal Hillsborough and we look forward to a further visit in the near future.”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie added: “I wish to convey my best wishes to Her Majesty The Queen as she recuperates, and hope that she feels much better very soon.

“Her Majesty has long been a regular visitor to Northern Ireland. She has been a source of great comfort during Northern Ireland`s darkest days and provided lasting leadership as we moved into a new era for all our people.

“I look forward to seeing The Queen back in Northern Ireland in the near future.”

The church service in Armagh became the centre of a row last month after the president of Ireland Michael D Higgins declined an invitation to attend because he believed it was not politically neutral.

Irish president Michael D Higgins declined an invitation to attend Thursday’s service (PA) (PA Media)
Irish president Michael D Higgins declined an invitation to attend Thursday’s service (PA) (PA Media)

The Irish government will be represented at the service by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and chief whip Jack Chambers.

The prayer service has been organised by the four main churches in Northern Ireland.

Church leaders expressed sorrow after learning the Queen would not be attending.

“We are very sorry to learn that it will not be possible for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be present for the Service of Reflection and Hope in Armagh tomorrow,” they said in a statement.

“We wish to convey to Her Majesty our good wishes and, in doing so, to acknowledge the significance of her commitment to the work of peace and reconciliation, which has meant a great deal to people throughout this island.

“We hope that tomorrow’s service will provide an opportunity to further that work, with an emphasis on our shared hopes for the future.”

The statement was signed by Presbyterian Moderator David Bruce, Church of Ireland Primate John McDowell, Catholic Primate Eamon Martin, President of the Irish Council of Churches Ivan Patterson and President of the Methodist Church in Ireland Sahr Yambasu.

Despite the Queen’s absence, an official ceremony went ahead outside Hillsborough Castle, the monarch’s residence in Northern Ireland.

A large number of local people gathered as the Lord Lieutenant of Co Down, Gawn Rowan Hamilton, inspected a guard of honour by the Hillsborough Fort Guard.

The Letters Patent from the Queen was then unveiled inside the castle, which officially changes the name of the village to Royal Hillsborough.

Stephen Martin, Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, said: “Today marks the day that the Letters Patent, which is the official, formal document which confers that royal status has arrived in the village and we are very excited.

“To Her Majesty, we are incredibly grateful for her determination that Hillsborough should become a royal village.

“Royal Hillsborough will now join a very select group of towns and villages across the United Kingdom.”

Read More

What the papers say – October 21

Church service in Armagh to mark Northern Ireland centenary

The Queen’s October schedule so far as she ‘reluctantly’ takes break

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting