A new book reveals The Queen of England’s reaction to the historic handshake in Northern Ireland in 2012.
When Queen Elizabeth met and shook hands with the former Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander Martin McGuinness during a visit to Northern Ireland, in 2012, it was a historic moment that showed the peace process’ progress after 40 years of The Troubles, in Northern Ireland. Now, six years later, the Queen’s thoughts have finally been revealed.
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron says, in “Queen of the World” a new book about the Queen by Robert Hardman:
“She was, as ever, not sure what all the fuss was about.”
Cameron disagreed and thought it was a very big deal indeed.
As he told the author:
“I think it was the most transformative bit of diplomacy I have seen. It was amazing.”
However, the Queen’s reply was really no surprise writes Hardman who pointed to her “modest, no-nonsense approach” to a job she has been doing since 1953.
“What was I meant to do?” she said.
“Of course, I shook his hand. It would be awkward not to.”
Sinn Fein realized the visit of the Queen to Ireland was a hugely symbolic moment, though they were slow to grasp that.
Sir Julian King, then the Ambassador to Dublin, told Hardman “Sinn Fein recognized that they hadn’t caught the mood because there were some huge approval ratings for the visit — 80 or 90 per cent. Among Sinn Fein supporters there was a massive majority too.
”After the meeting Adams said that it was about “moving beyond rhetoric to reach out” to unionists as a “gesture of respect”. He said: “It is a very significant step and I think it may bring us into a different phase, into a new platform which can be built upon.”
Years later McGuinness, stated:
“I liked her courage in agreeing to meet me. I liked the engagements that I’ve had with her. There’s nothing I have seen in my engagements with her that this is someone I should dislike — I like her.”
Here Martin McGuinness speaks about his meeting with the Queen: