Queen’s last-minute walkabout decision

QUEEN ELIZABETH II told her security just minutes before she left Cork’s English Market that she wanted to do a walkabout among the waiting public.

A senior Garda source said Royal Protection Officers (RPOs) communicated the monarch’s desire to his officers that she wanted to meet the crowds on the last leg of her four-day visit here.

Earlier that day, while she was visiting the Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary, RPOs had mooted that the Queen might like to meet some local well-wishers before she returned home from making history as the first British monarch to visit the Republic.

During the previous three days she had only spoken with specially invited guests at a number of functions.

“But it was only when she was in the English Market that they (the RPOs) contacted us and said she would like to do it before she drove to Cork Airport for her flight home,” the senior Garda source said.

Gardaí were happy with their security arrangements and informed RPOs that they felt it would be okay if she mingled with some of the 30,000 people who had lined the streets of the city hoping to get a glimpse of her.

Minutes later, to the surprise of hundreds of schoolchildren who were assembled in the Grand Parade, the Queen and Prince Philip didn’t walk to their waiting bullet-proof car but headed for the crowd controlbarriers where they shook hands and spoke to many of the assembled crowd.

It is believed that the queen did this because she felt very at ease following the warm welcome she had received in the city.

The cheers of the children and their teachers drowned out a protest mounted by dissident republicans only a few hundred yards away on Sullivan’s Quay.

The garda riot squad, horse and dog units had sealed off the area where up to 60 dissidents had gathered.

The source confirmed that there were some minor arrests for public order offences and one man was detained after he was found in possession of an imitation firearm.

“The whole event went off very well. The fact that it was the only walkabout she did on the tour will do wonders for Cork,” the garda source added.

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