Sep 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

King Charles visits Northern Ireland for first time as monarch

King Charles III accompanied by Camilla, Queen Consort.
King Charles III accompanied by Camilla, Queen Consort. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

King Charles III received a warm welcome in Belfast on Tuesday while pledging to continue his mother's work of "healing of long-held hurts" within Northern Ireland.

Why it matters: Queen Elizabeth II, who died late last week, became a symbol of reconciliation toward the end of a three-decade-long period of sectarian violence known as "the Troubles."

Details: King Charles visited Hillsborough Castle, which was his first visit to Northern Ireland as the new monarch.

  • The king held private meetings with the country's secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and the country's political leaders, the Associated Press reports.

What he said: “In the years since she began her long life of public service, my mother saw Northern Ireland pass through momentous and historic changes," Charles said during his speech.

  • “Through all those years, she never ceased to pray for the best of times for this place and for its people, whose stories she knew, whose sorrows our family had felt, and for whom she had a great affection and regard.
  • "My mother felt deeply, I know, the significance of the role she herself played in bringing together those who history had separated and extending a hand to make possible the healing of long-held hurts.
  • “I take up my new duties resolved to seek the welfare of all of the inhabitants of Northern Ireland," he said.

The big picture: Northern Ireland has been thick with political tension as the nation has had an intense debate over the fallout from Brexit.

  • Northern Ireland's population voted to remain in the European Union back in 2016, but the Conservative Party in the U.K. added "new customs barriers" between Britain and Northern Ireland, according to CNN.
  • According to the New York Times, supporters of the country's nationalist party, Sinn Féin, do not support the British monarchy. But the party did express sympathy for the queen's passing.
  • Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said that the Queen recognized that "small but significant gesture can make a huge difference in changing attitudes."

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