Prince Charles paid tribute to the "grandfather he never had", the assassinated Lord Mountbatten, in a speech this afternoon in which he said friendship with Ireland cannot be based on "pretending the past did not happen".
Britain's Prince Charles makes a speech at the 'Model Arts Centre' in Sligo town https://t.co/2zFxhHvv4r— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 20, 2015
Prince Charles began by saying "I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to be in Ireland once again," and attempting a few words of Irish in greeting.
He said the "ancient land of Ireland … can be a great source of inspiration for some" and cites the poetry of WB Yeats, much of which was inspired by the Sligo landscape.
"It is not a stretch to say that it is through Yeats' work that many British people are first introduced to Ireland."
He said relations between Britain and Ireland had "changed dramatically" since his last trip in the 1990s, through the Good Friday agreement.
He said the Queen's recent visit - and the return visit by President Higgins, was "clear evidence of the maturity of our relations, which are now better than ever …[due to] respect between two sovereign nations."
However, he said "our current blessed era of friendship and cooperation is not based on pretending the past did not happen."
"I am only too deeply aware of the long history of suffering which Ireland has endured, not only in recent decades, but over the course of its history.
"It is a history which I know has caused much pain and much resentment, in a world of imperfect human beings.
"In the end, our acquaintance has been long, and we can turn that … into something new. We need no longer be victims … we can integrate our history and memory in order to reap the subtle harvest of history.
"Let us, then, endeavour to become the subjects of our history, and not its prisoners."
The royals will travel to Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA along with three others when the IRA detonated a bomb on his boat on August 27 1979.
Charles said Mountbatten represented "the grandfather I never had." But he said through that tragedy, he had learned to understand the agony of those in Ireland who suffered in conflict.
After a prayer service for peace and reconciliation in nearby Drumcliffe, Charles will meet some of those who were in the seaside village on the day of the atrocity and others who pulled survivors and bodies from the Atlantic.
The royals will also have the chance to visit the burial site of WB Yeats in the church cemetery and under the shadow of Benbulben and plant a tree in the grounds.
Other engagements include a view of the Niland Art Collection and music and poetry recitals to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth.