King Charles III has promised in Belfast to pick up the baton from his mother, Elizabeth II, also in terms of the crown’s commitments to Northern Ireland, a territory marked for decades by a conflict that, even today, is still reflected in clear political and social divisions.
The new monarch has continued in Belfast the tour undertaken after the death of Elizabeth II, in a protocol gesture that also serves as an endorsement of the new stage. Thus, in a speech to MPs, he pledged to follow the “shining example” of his mother and to work for “the welfare of all the inhabitants of Northern Ireland”.
“In the years since she began her long life of public service, my mother saw Northern Ireland go through historic changes,” said the new monarch, who recalled that his family also felt as their own the “sorrows” of this territory, according to BBC News.
The president of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alex Maskey, a historic member of the IRA and Sinn Féin, expressed his condolences to Charles III on behalf of the institution and the Northern Irish people, stressing that his mother had not been “a distant observer” of the transformation experienced.
The queen, he has added, “demonstrated personally how individual actions can help break down barriers and encourage reconciliation.” “She showed how a small but significant gesture, a visit, a handshake, a crossing of the street or speaking a few words in Irish can make a big difference,” she has maintained.
Maskey has also highlighted how much Northern Ireland has changed from the first time Elizabeth II visited in 1953 to the last time in 2012, stressing that the Assembly now brings together “unionists, republicans, nationalists” able to honor the late queen’s memory together.
The official ceremonies then moved to St. Anne’s Cathedral, where a new mass in memory of Elizabeth II took place in the presence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss, and also of the main authorities of Ireland, including the President, Michael D. Higgins, and the Prime Minister, Micheál Martin.
Northern Ireland has lacked an effective government since the May elections, despite the fact that the fulfillment of the Good Friday Agreements that ended the conflict in 1998 depends to a large extent on the political settlement.
In the last election, some 42 percent of voters opted for Unionist options, which advocate Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom and have, broadly speaking, a greater sense of affinity for the monarchy now represented by Charles III.
The nationalists, on the other hand, want the territory to be integrated into Ireland and won 40 percent of the vote in May. Its main exponent is Sinn Féin, which absented itself on Sunday from the formal ceremony organized in Belfast to proclaim the new king.
Charles III has been seen with the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Jeffrey Donaldson, and with the vice president of Sinn Féin, Michelle O’Neill, who has recognized the work of the queen in favor of “reconciliation.”