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President Higgins to speak about Queen’s relationship with Ireland on Late Late Show

Speaking to RTÉ News in Galway this morning, the President said he would particularly remember her attention to detail over the course of his interactions with her

President Higgins with the Queen in 2014© PA

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

President Michael D Higgins is to address the nation on tonight’s Late Late Show about the Queen’s relationship with Ireland.

In light of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, a change to the show’s schedule will see President Higgins speak about the importance of her state visit here, her legacy and his return visit to the UK.

Speaking to RTÉ News in Galway this morning, the President said he would particularly remember her attention to detail over the course of his interactions with her.

President Higgins met the queen at Belfast's Lyric Theatre in 2012, which was followed by his state visit to Britain two years later.

He said the queen had been enormously well informed about the contribution of the Irish community in Britain and wanted to ensure that was reflected over the course of the four-day visit to the UK in 2014.

He said the monarch had been able to bridge formal and informal roles with ease, and was able "to do what had to be done but also in a way that made just about everybody comfortable".

He said Queen Elizabeth had "never been stuck in a rut of history in a particular period".

She was very conscious how Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland had changed over the years, he said, and was keen to emphasise the possibility of improved economic, social and cultural relations.

The President said the queen had the necessary distances between the "day to day acrimonies of politics" and had a longer view as a result of the length of her reign.

Also speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, President Higgins recalled both the queen's visit to Ireland in 2011 and his visit to the UK in 2014.

He said she was "at pains to point out the contribution that the Irish had made in relation to building England" and paid tribute to the "hundreds of thousands of families" who worked in the English health services and built roads.

He said that during her visit to Ireland in 2011, she made "that extraordinary statement that if things would have been done again, they would be done differently or perhaps not at all".

"I found during those four days, very much not just a great deal of warmth, but an exceptional regard that Ireland and Britain were in a new place," he said, adding that her knowledge of history was fascinating.

"People mightn't know, but she was very conscious that the use of the Irish language in 2011 was not accidental," he said.

When asked how he would remember the queen, President Higgins said: "I think, above all else, it is the extraordinary achievement she had of giving such a long service in very, very significant conditions of change, being incredibly well informed, but also maybe I think the exceptional part of it all was combining this sense of formality in duty with a great capacity for connection with the people."

He said this was "very much evident" to both he and Sabina when they visited the queen in 2014.

"There was that capacity to bridge the formal and the informal," he said.

"I do think as well, maybe her sense of detail was very interesting, because the preparations that she was involved in between 2011 and 2014 were complex. They required some subtlety and very good diplomacy."

Meanwhile, Hollywood stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts are among the guests who will join Ryan Tubridy this evening.

On Friday’s show, which is the second programme of the new season, Tubridy will chat with the pair, who are in London, as they promote their new romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise.

The host will also speak to them about Clooney’s Irish ancestry and Roberts’ memories of filming Michael Collins here in Ireland.

Irish actress and writer Amy Huberman will be on the show to talk about her new children's book and her upcoming acting work.

And TikTok star Tadhg Fleming, Mrs Brown's Boys actress Fiona O'Carroll, and former Miss Ireland Pamela Uba will join Tubridy on the couch to speak about why they wanted to face their fears in signing up to be part of this year's Ultimate Hell Week: The Professionals.

Ahead of the first ever Dublin Brick Con in Ireland, there will be a few very special Lego recreations of famous Irish landmarks in-studio.

Plus, there will be a very special musical performance with Megan O’Neill singing Lay your Head Down.

The Late Late Show will air on RTÉ One on Friday, September 9 at 9.35pm.


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