Queen Elizabeth has played a larger behind-the-scenes role as a 'steadying influence' on the North's peace process than most people realize, First Minister Peter Robinson revealed this week. Robinson told the Newsletter in Belfast that the British monarch has privately been 'an encourager' of those attempting to renounce violence.
According to the Belfast Newsletter the Queen regards the resolution of the Troubles in the North as one of the finest political successes of her reign.
Robinson, who has discussed the peace process with the Queen in person, said, "There is no question that she has an interest in it. I think she has gone beyond the element of interest. I think she has played a role.
"She has been a steadying influence on many occasions and I think that in particular if you look at her outreach in relation to the visit to the Irish Republic you can see that she wanted to be a positive influence and to be an encourager – and I think that during her visit this month you will see her reaching out as well."
During last year’s state visit to the Republic, the Queen, who never gives interviews, surprised many with her decision to visit the Garden of Remembrance memorial which commemorates all those who fought against Britain a century ago. She also caused comment and won admiration by speaking some words of Irish during her state visit.
Asked if her decisions to make those visits underlined the work she was doing privately behind the scenes, Robinson agreed.
'Yes, well of course she has met with the president of the Republic in the past, she has given encouragement to many people who have been involved in attempting to reach solutions in Northern Ireland and I think that was an endorsement of the process that we have, and trying to build on the process that we have for the future. I don’t think people realise how significant a role it is that the Queen plays in the life of the nation.'
Robinson also said that anyone offended by the Queen could not blame the monarch for their offence.
'In society there will always be people who want to look at areas where they want to cause division or be offended. But I think that most sensible and reasonable people will recognise that the Queen has performed her task in a way that unites people rather than divides them. That was certainly the space that she moved into in Dublin and in the south more generally last year.
'I think it’s universally recognised that she was a reconciling personality and that she wants to bring her citizens – even those who may not wish to be her citizens – to a place where there is peace and stability.
'So while people may choose to be offended, it’s not because of any action that Her Majesty has taken; it’s their own prejudice that’s brought them to that place.'