The Queen landed in Dublin this morning wearing a green dress and hat to begin her historical tour of the former British colony. And this is not the kind of "historical tour" that involves fun trips to the Guinness brewery and castles on emerald hillsides. The historical nature of the trip involves not only the fact that Her Royal Highness is the first British monarch to visit Ireland since their war for independence in 1916 but also the history of violence that's made security a grave concern during the Queen's visit. A phalanx of 8,000 police officers will protect Queen Elizabeth during her visit, a measure that may not be as extreme as it sounds as authorities discovered two bombs on a bus just hours before the monarch's arrival.
Memories of the British executing freedom fighters in Dublin and car bombs rattling London are fresher than many Americans might imagine. The complexity of the relationship between the United Kingdom and Ireland since the Irish Civil War began in 1916 is also difficult to express. On one hand, the two neighboring nations share a similar, albeit violent history, and for decades, the two governments have worked closely on a solution to the social and political turmoil in Northern Ireland. Animosity runs deep on both sides, however, as wounds are still fresh from the sometimes oppressive British presence in Belfast and resultant violence by groups like the Irish Republican Army (IRA). However, leaders on both sides hope that the Queen's visit will punctuate the two nation's troubled history and finally mark the positive shift in their relationship set in motion nearly two decades ago by Irish Prime Minister John Major.