King Charles pays tribute to queen’s peace-making role in Northern Ireland
Crowds of well-wishers greeted King Charles with handshakes and warm words when he visited Northern Ireland on Tuesday as part of a tour of the United Kingdom to lead mourning for his mother Queen Elizabeth.
Enthusiasm for the new monarch and fond memories of the queen were evident during a visit laden with symbolism and significance given Britain's historical record in Ireland and the more recent years of violence in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles.
"For Northern Ireland, she (the queen) meant a lot here. As you know we are quite a split country unfortunately, but the queen always stood by us," said Joey McPolin, 77, from Dramore.
"Our friends here in Northern Ireland, we all want to live together, we really do. I think people with different religions recognise the wonderful job she did. I really hope we all go forward and support our king," she said.
In Scotland, Queen Elizabeth's flag-draped coffin laid at rest in St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, where thousands of people filed past it to pay their final respects.
The casket will be flown to London later on Tuesday for four days of lying in state before a state funeral on Monday.
Elizabeth died on Thursday in her holiday home at Balmoral Castle, in the Scottish Highlands, at the age of 96, plunging the nation into mourning for a monarch who had reigned for 70 years and was a principal part of the fabric of British life.
Charles, 73, who automatically became king of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms including Australia, Canada and Jamaica, is travelling to the four parts of the United Kingdom before the funeral.
In Northern Ireland, thousands of people lined the streets outside Hillsborough Castle, the monarch's official residence, to welcome him. He stepped out of his car to shake hands with well-wishers to chants of "God Save the King".
Joy Hutchinson, 34, said she hoped Charles would keep the United Kingdom together after some have blamed Brexit, Britain's departure from the European Union, among other things for loosening Britain's ties with Northern Ireland.
Later Charles met senior politicians and faith leaders at the castle, telling them in a speech he would seek the welfare of the people of Northern Ireland. He also paid tribute to his mother.
"My mother saw Northern Ireland pass through momentous and historic changes. 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 whom history had separated, and in extending a hand to make possible the healing of long-held hurts," he said.