British royal to be invited to attend commemorative event next year

Michael D Higgins and Queen Elizabeth
Michael D Higgins and Queen Elizabeth

A member of the British royal family will be invited to attend one of the major commemorative events of 2016, it has emerged.

While there some controversy when the idea was mooted during President Michael D Higgins’s State visit to the United Kingdom last year, The Irish Time reports  that Government sources are still optimistic that it will happen.

“We are not talking about a British royal on the reviewing stand at the GPO on the anniversary of the Rising but about attendance at an appropriate event during the year,”  the paper quotes a  Government source saying at the weekend.

And in an article in today’s Irish Times, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan hinted at the desire of the Government to facilitate the involvement of leading figures from the UK in the commemorative programme.

“We will need to consider also whether, in terms of the domestic Ireland 2016 programme, there may be events where it will be appropriate to invite our international partners, at a suitable level, to join with us to reflect on the events of 1916 and to mark this key moment on Ireland’s path to independence and place amongst the nations of the world,” said Mr Flanagan.

In April last year in a speech welcoming President Higgins on his State visit, Queen Elizabeth pointed out that Irish people had been involved in all the major campaigns and battles of the First World War

One possible event would be the commemoration of the Irish men who fought at the first battle of the Somme in July 1916.