British royals shouldn’t be encouraged

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Mullaghmore, Sligo, on day two of a four day visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 20, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Ireland. Photo credit should read: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Mullaghmore, Sligo, on day two of a four day visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 20, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Ireland. Photo credit should read: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

Steady on, steady on with royal visits to the Republic. We don’t want royals to be like buses; you wait ages for one and then they all arrive in succession. One or two royal visits will do. We don’t need a whole series of them.

Steady on, steady on with royal visits to the Republic. We don’t want royals to be like buses; you wait ages for one and then they all arrive in succession. One or two royal visits will do. We don’t need a whole series of them.

We want excellent relationships between Britain and Ireland. That’s not the issue.

And it can’t all be about our grim past either, with respect to all who have suffered. In the case of Prince Charles it can’t be all about murders at Mullaghmore or Narrow Water Castle or the Paras’ murderous rampages in Belfast and Derry. The pain of the past won’t go away. That’s as good a reason as any not to be trapped in it. As Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams acknowledged, “There remain unresolved injustices”. But that’s not what royals are about.

Kate Nash’s brother, William was shot dead by the Paras on Bloody Sunday. Kate’s view that Prince Charles, Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, isn’t welcome and her anger at Sinn Féin for meeting him is understandable. “What they are doing is utterly disgraceful. If Prince Charles did anything like use his influence to get the disgraced Parachute Regiment disbanded, then I would welcome the man himself,” she said. Of course that’s not going to happen and there’s no point in being unrealistic.

There are wider electoral considerations for Sinn Féin. It would be foolish for their people to wrong-foot themselves again by refusing to meet Britain’s royals. The party found itself out-of-step with the electorate when it opposed Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Dublin and Cork in 2011. So, a year later, Martin McGuinness met Queen Elizabeth in Belfast.

If it’s not all about past hurts, why do I say steady on with royal visits?

It’s because too much deference to one family whose extraordinary privilege is inherited and paid for by the public is out of place in a republic. OK, we can put up with the protocol required for official visits but beyond that, royals shouldn’t be encouraged.

It’s true that Queen Elizabeth’s 2011 visit contributed to normalising relationships between both countries but it’s a mistake to add to the British royals’ sense of their own popularity and to their sense of entitlement. That’s well enough developed already. The next thing we know Charles will be scribbling letters to government ministers in Dublin lobbying for this and that.

Also, we shouldn’t mislead English people. Their ignorance is colossal, and we don’t want them to make the lazy assumption that Ireland isn’t really an independent republic. British people are inclined to ignore Ireland or to take it for granted. Consider, for instance, the debate in England about the pros and cons of membership of the EU. If Britain were to opt out of the EU it would be a calamity for Ireland, not least because divisions between north and south would be reinforced, yet the effect on Ireland is seldom, if ever, mentioned.

So, steady on with the royal visits. How absurd things can get was illustrated when Dublin ministers suggested inviting “a senior royal” to celebrations for the centenary of the Easter Rising. Hopefully, relatives of the Proclamation’s signatories have poured enough cold water on that nonsense.

Ok, we can give the English royal family its place. It’s just that, their place shouldn’t involve endless traipsing over here