Lord Ahern of Drumcondra
Saturday's London Times reports that Queen Elizabeth II (i.e. the current one) wants to visit the Republic of Ireland. The visit would most likely take place early in 2004. The media will doubtless pitch this one as a test of how the Republic has matured in its attitude to our former rulers. We are more interested in the spectacle that the visit will present in terms of our current rulers, the self-styled custodians of Irish nationalism, Fianna Fail. Even 10 years ago, the idea that an Irish Prime Minister would go through all the formalities of a royal visit in full view of the electorate would have seemed far fetched. But Fianna Fail now seem to think we can handle the sight of our VIP culture meeting its counterpart from Britain.
George V (i.e. two Georges after the mad one) was the last British monarch to visit the Republic, but the best known visit was by Queen Victoria in 1900. If our protocol people decide to look at her visit to see how things should be handled, some pretty rusty roles are going to have to be revived, as this meticulous (but totally sycophantic) contemporary account illustrates. For one thing, where in God's name are we going to find an Athlone Pursuivant-at-arms?
Anyway, Victoria's visit was deemed such a great success that she handed out a bunch of titles to local dignitaries when she got home. Could it be that PM Bertie Ahern is jealous of Sir Bob Geldof and Sir Tony O'Reilly and wants to one-up them with a lordship?