On the weekend that King Charles III is coronated we revisit the Royal family's first visit to Ireland since the country gained independence in 1922.
In 1937, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom made a historic visit to Ireland. This was the first time that a reigning monarch of the UK had set foot in the country since its independence from Britain in 1922.
The visit was part of a tour of the British Empire that the king and queen were undertaking, and it was seen as an opportunity to cement the ties between Britain and its former colony. It was also a chance for the royal couple to experience the rich culture and traditions of Ireland and to meet with the people of the country.
The incredible newsreel footage below comes from British Pathe. The video includes footage of "several warships in the harbor. King George VI (former Prince Albert Duke of York) and Queen Elizabeth (former Duchess of York, later Queen Mother) inspecting the Guard of Honour onboard HMS 'Exmouth'," Pathe states.
"King and Queen arriving to Northern Ireland. They are greeted by Duke of Abercorn, Governor of Northern Ireland. Prime Minister, Lord Craigavon is not present due to illness. King and Queen ride in an open car through the crowded streets of Belfast. Troops lined up, crowds cheering, streets heavily decorated with flowers and flags. King and Queen in a car.
"King and Queen on dais watching youth - performance includes Irish Country Dancing by the Girl Guides and Physical Training display by the Boys' Brigade. Several shots of the show. King and Queen leaving, children cheering loudly."
The visit was not without controversy, however. Many Irish nationalists viewed it as an unwelcome intrusion by a foreign power, and there were fears that it would lead to unrest and violence. In addition, the visit took place against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Britain and Ireland over the status of Northern Ireland.
Despite these challenges, the visit was a success. The royal couple received a warm welcome from the Irish people, and they were able to meet with a wide range of politicians, community leaders, and ordinary citizens. The king and queen visited many of Ireland's most famous landmarks, including Dublin Castle, the Rock of Cashel, and the Blarney Stone.
Perhaps the most significant moment of the visit came when the king addressed the Irish parliament, the first time that a British monarch had done so since the Act of Union in 1800. In his speech, the king expressed his hope that the visit would mark the beginning of a new era of cooperation and friendship between Britain and Ireland. He also acknowledged the difficult history between the two countries, saying that he hoped that the wounds of the past could be healed.
The visit was widely reported in the press, both in the United Kingdom and around the world. It was seen as a significant step towards the normalization of relations between Britain and Ireland, and it helped to improve the image of the UK in the eyes of many Irish people. However, it would be many years before the two countries were able to fully reconcile their differences, and the conflict in Northern Ireland would continue for several more decades.
In conclusion, the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 1937 was a historic moment in the relationship between Britain and Ireland. It was a chance for the royal couple to experience the rich culture and traditions of Ireland, and to meet with the people of the country. Despite the challenges and controversy surrounding the visit, it was seen as a significant step towards the normalization of relations between the two countries, and it helped to improve the image of the UK in the eyes of many Irish people.