Thoughts on the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland, May 17, 2011. We salute the lady a

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Let's not delude ourselves. The Queen's visit to Ireland is not only a political statement of the first magnitude. It is also an act of great personal courage for which the 85-year-old sovereign deserves the highest praise.

There are at this very moment people in Ireland who have determined that the British monarch die in Ireland in the most violent and heinous way.

Item: On Easter Monday 2011, a representative of the splinter sectarian group called the Real IRA appeared in a video statement wearing a balaclava and military clothing and referred to the visit (which begins May 17, 2011) as "the upcoming insult" and the government invitation as "unrepresentative" of the wishes of the Irish people.

He said, "The Queen of England is wanted for war crimes in Ireland and not wanted on Irish soil. We will do our best to ensure she and the gombeen class that act as her cheerleaders get that message." ("gombeen" means corrupt.)

This statement also included a threat to kill more Northern Irish police officers just weeks after the murder of Catholic police officer Ronan Kerr in Omagh.

Item: The republican group Eirigi (Rise Up) has placed a countdown timer on its web site, calling for the Queen's visit to be met with "widespread opposition and protest". The group is asking those against the visit to occupy the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial park in Dublin dedicated to those who fought for Irish freedom, which is part of the Queen's official itinerary.

She will also go to Croke Park Stadium, the headquarters of Ireland's two national sports, Gaelic football and hurling. It is the site of one of the bloodiest days of the War of Independence, infamous as "Bloody Sunday" , November 21, 1920; 14 civilians were killed by British forces retaliating for the killing of British undercover agents earlier in the day. In a land where symbolism is potent and sharply etched it takes just a little to imagine some terrorist or other planning for the death strike at this place.

The Irish authorities are taking these and the hundreds of other threats and maledictions with the greatest possible care and concern. This visit is now Ireland's biggest (and most costly) security event. Up to 10,000 police and military personnel will be deployed at a cost of some $42 million. "Safety first" was British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin's slogan; it would be apt, too, for Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. As for where the Irish government (mired in debt) will find the money to pay these costs that is quite a different matter...

But this very practical question is of minor interest to Irish President Mary McAleese who was insistent that this visit occur... and occur during her presidency. McAleese, like so many of the Irish, has been directly and personally touched by what locals, with stunning understatement, call "The Troubles". She grew up in Northern Ireland during some of its worst days. Her brother was nearly beaten to death for the crime of being Roman Catholic. She is feisty and unapologetic about why this visit is so important at this time:

"It would be the culmination, a celebration, of the efforts that both countries have put into bringing peace." Peace... so desirable, so elusive... now with the Queen's visit officially at hand. I wonder if McAleese knows this famous speech by the Duke of Burgundy in Shakespeare's "Henry V"?

"That face to face, and royal eye to eye, You have congreeted, let it not disgrace me If I demand before this royal view, What rub or impediment there is, Why that the naked, poor, and mangled Peace, Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful births, Should not in this best garden of the world, Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage? Alas! she hath from France too long been chased...."

Change the single word "France" to "Ireland" and you have the very reason why McAleese has been so exigent on this subject. She and millions of storm-touched Irish wish in the catch-phrase of this moment, to "move on". They want peace and its bounties, not the traditional delights of murdering innocent people because they choose to address God the Father in their own way. For generations people worldwide looked at Ireland and its unending, always bloody, always painful troubles and wondered why a nation of culture, civilization, hospitality and charm could still be chained to the blood sport of human murder... At last the overwhelming majority of the Irish, both northern and southern, too, have arrived at this point as the rationale for mayhem and murder has lost its persuasiveness. But not for all...

... which is why the visit of Elizabeth of England is so important and why this Queen of England can justifiably lay claim to one of the greatest speeches of her predecessor. Here is what Elizabeth I said as the galleons of the Dons of Spain moved on England in the Great Armada of 1588:

"We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you that I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have but the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too".

And so she does...

For, you see, Queen Elizabeth II has been profoundly and personally touched by the sea of Irish troubles. In 1979, the Irish Republican Army planted a bomb that killed, in his boat, the Queen's cousin Lord Mountbatten of Burma, a distinguished theatre commander of World War II. Mountbatten was killed instantly along with his daughter's mother-in-law Lady Brabourne, his 14-year-old grandson, and a local boy, age 15, who was piloting the boat. Prince Charles wept that day for the death of his mentor... and the good people of two nations wept with him. Thus have sovereigns and princes been afflicted along with the rest, so desiring peace as fervently.

Never forget, there is danger in this visit. There are those who prefer the grisly past. And they will move mountains, or at least attempt to, to wreak havoc and dismay. That is why in Dublin today, specialists will complete their second or third reconnaissance of the city's sewers and all such places where bombs and other devices of death and disfigurement could be planted. Over these her majesty will travel starting tomorrow in Dublin. Thus does a queen do her duty... and demonstrate the valor which has always been one of her sterling qualities, doing the job no one does better. God Save The Queen.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Lant is also a world recognized historian, an expert on the British Royal Family and author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author's permission by Luigi Panarella
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