Complementary tones set the mood at historic event

HISTORY books will chronicle the meeting of Queen Elizabeth II and President Mary McAleese on Irish soil as momentous, but for fashion watchers it was their outfits which grabbed all the attention.

As the monarch appeared in the doorway of her chartered BAE 146 jet there was probably no surprise that green was the chosen shade of her Stewart Parvin outfit.

The President was also in an eye-catching hue — a shade of pink not quite shocking but close enough, by Dublin-based designers Tyrrell and Brennan.

Together, the two heads of state set each other’s outfits off and made a statement which carried across the globe.

The Duke of Edinburgh, despite being dressed in a sober dark suit, was not to be outdone, saving one of his famed acerbic quips for a slightly stuffy event.

The queen’s arrival at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, on the south-west outskirts of Dublin, featured the traditional introductions and handshakes, with British and Irish officials waiting patiently in line for the royals.

It was a simple prelude to the “meet and greet” of the two heads of state at Áras an Uachtaráin, the President’s official residence in the otherwise deserted Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

The two have met on several occasions before, so there was no awkwardness of strangers here, and the queen stepped from her chauffeur-driven Range Rover, smiling broadly, to shake the hand of the Republic’s head of state.

Prince Philip, for once, found himself with a male companion — Dr Martin McAleese, the President’s husband — whereas he is, on most occasions, chaperoned by wives as the queen meets heads of state who, on most occasions, men.

Formality followed formality — from reviewing a guard of honour to planting a tree to commemorate the visit — but Philip could not resist poking fun at a book signing, saying: “Do you want me to put the date on it?”

The queen and the President both changed to more fitting dresses for the afternoon’s sombre occasion — a wreath-laying ceremony at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, which honours all those who fought for Irish freedom from British rule.

The monarch was in an ivory-coloured outfit with olive green trim, while the President Mary McAleese dressed in black with white piping detail — again the two complementary looks giving rise to the suspicion they may have consulted over their wardrobe choices.

A spokeswoman for the President would not comment on the suggestion that the 85-year-old sovereign had popped into a spare room at the Áras to change, but joked: “She was in one outfit when she arrived and in another when she left.”


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