Queen Elizabeth II has promised that a royal family member will participate in the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Queen mentioned the possibility of another official visit to Ireland by a royal during President Michael D Higgins’s State visit to the United Kingdom last week.
The Irish government hopes that Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, will attend the commemorations.
"The leading figure you would be talking about would be Charles. That's what the speculation would focus on. That's the next big one. If not him, then William and Kate, but that's less likely for 1916. The conversations going on are about Charles. Everyone wants it to happen – both sides. You'd see it as someone really significant," a senior government source told the Irish Independent.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny has also indicated that Ireland wanted to take up the Queen’s offer of a high-profile visit and use it as an opportunity to promote reconciliation between the two countries.
An official visit by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, could be the next step in improving relations between Ireland and the UK.
"I can't see it being the Queen. Charles would be the next best. There's nothing decided but that would be the intelligent speculation in Government," said another source.
A royal family member’s participation in the 2016 Rising ceremonies is expected following Irish participation in events to mark the centenary of World War I. President Higgins and the government will play an important part in those events later this year and with the Battle of the Somme in 2016 and the Armistice in 2018.
However, the possible cooperation of a royal family member at the 1916 ceremonies is being attributed to former Irish President Mary McAleese’s attendance with Queen Elizabeth II at the inauguration of the memorial to the Irish dead of World War I at Messines in Belgium in 1998, the first public event attended jointly by an Irish president and a British monarch.
The Irish government would also welcome a visit by Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who are currently on a media-attracting tour with their son, Prince George, in Australia and New Zealand.
A government source said a visit by the golden couple could boost tourism and attract a younger audience to Ireland.
"It's like Tiger Woods playing at your golf tournament. They have the pulling power. She gets followed everywhere. You see her walking down a city street or at a tourist site. People of her age and ilk look at her in a different light," said the source.
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