Acknowledging a shared and tragic history there were messages of strong ties and friendship and Harry and Meghan are warmly welcomed in Ireland.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle charmed crowds at a summer garden party, held at the British Ambassador’s residence on Tuesday evening.
Having arrived in Ireland on during the late afternoon the royal couple visited with Ireland Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar at government buildings before a quick outfit change. Harry and Meghan greeted guests including celebrities from the world of sports and the arts on the lawn at the Ambassador Robin Barnett’s residence.
Introducing the Duke to the crowds Tánaiste (Deputy Leader) Simon Coveney welcomed “the new generation of the British Royal Family” who were continuing to “nourish” Anglo-Irish ties as “the countries seek to navigate a shared and difficult history”.
Prince Harry began his speech with a little Irish, mirroring his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II’s efforts during his historic visit to Ireland in 2011. He addressed the crowds saying “a dhaoine uaisle” (gentlemen) followed quickly by asking “Did I get that right?”
The guests cheered in response.
He thanked the people of Ireland for the “warm welcome we’ve received since being in this beautiful country” and he thanked the Coveney for showing his father Prince Charles and step-mother Camilla around Cork on his visit last month, during their forth visit to Ireland in the past four years.
Harry joked “And it was also very nice to know that we he didn’t bore you senseless.”
Speaking to the crowd Prince Harry said, “Standing here with you on this beautiful evening, it is easy to see why Ireland has such a special place in the hearts of my family and indeed, all those who come here.”
He added that he and Meghan were “so pleased” to make Ireland their “first international visit together as a married couple” and said it would be “the first of many.”
The Prince said “As each other’s closest neighbors, the UK and Ireland’s relationship is unique; our shared history is long and complex. There have of course been challenging and at times tragic period of that relationship.”
He closed his speech with a reference to remarks made by Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins’s during his visit to the United Kingdom in 2014:
“We live in each other’s shadows; we shield each other and rely on each other for shelter.”
He said this sentiment was “as apt now as it was then, as we draw strength from one another as neighbors, partners and above all friends.”
He concluded by raising a toast to Ireland’s President and the people of Ireland.
Prince Harry & Meghan, the Duke & Duchess of Sussex, meeting guests, including #CervicalCheck campaigner @PhelanVicky, at Dublin garden party at UK ambassador’s residence - @IrishTimes pic.twitter.com/4YXEOWjGvN— Simon Carswell (@SiCarswell) July 10, 2018
Among the guests at the party with former Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll who jumped at the chance to ask the Prince how he though England would do in the FIFA World Cup. O’Driscoll asked, “Is it coming home?”
The rugby star told the Irish Mirror “He didn’t jump at me immediately saying yes it was, so I am thinking there is either humility or he is not sure whether he is coming home or not.”
Comedian Aisling Bea also spoke to the Duke. She said “We made some jokes about putting Copper Face Jacks into the next speech he does… He was so sweet and clearly a very funny and sweet guy and that came across in our chats.”
Vicky Phelan, the Limerick woman who exposed the controversy around the CervicalCheck screening program, said she was shocked when Meghan Markle said she had heard of her story.
“She said: ‘I have been following your story; you have been doing some great stuff,” Phelan said.
The couple stayed at Farmleigh House, in the Phoenix Park on Tuesday night and have a jam-packed schedule planned for Wednesday.
Harry and Meghan are expected to visit the home of Ireland’s Gaelic Games Croke Park followed by Trinity College and the Book of Kells. They will then visit the Famine Memorial on the Liffey Quays as well as EPIC Irish Emigration Museum.
They will also meet with Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins.
In advance of the Royal couple’s visit Varadkar spoke to Cork radio station 96FM. He said “I think they’re going to be extremely welcome, and I look forward to welcoming them.
“With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, we’re really going to focus a lot more on bilateral relationships - visits of the Presidents to the UK or members of the Royal Family to Ireland help to cement that very close relationship between Britain and Ireland.”
In addition to their Irish trip, the couple plans on going on their first foreign tour in the Autumn, in which they will travel to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.