The old home town doesn’t look the same as when she stepped down from the train. That’s not surprising as it was back in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth stepped down from the train in Coleraine. She only emerged from the station long enough to wave to a huge crowd.
I know because my mother lifted me onto her shoulders so I could see over people’s heads. That’s all I remember. That’s not surprising as I was only five. Come to think of it, Derry was a very different place then too. Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were either going to or coming from visiting Brooke Park when the royal train stopped in Coleraine. Strangely enough, Brooke Park hasn’t had a royal visit since although it did provide a base for some of her soldiers! According to media reports a crowd of around 4,000 welcomed the Queen back to Coleraine recently. The crowd included ladies who play bowls and sing in choirs, reported the ‘Irish Times’. It sounded like a more middle class affair than the gathering of 1953.
Unionist loyalty to the British royals has always been highly conditional. They must, for instance, remain Protestants and be more unionist than the unionists themselves.
Now that the Queen has paid her respects to those who helped win Irish independence, has spoken in Irish and had civil chats with Martin McGuinness she must be providing a challenging role model for some.