Queen Elizabeth bows in respect while honouring the fallen Irish

QUEEN ELIZABETH II bowed her head in respect as she laid a wreath in memory of those who died during Ireland’s long struggle for independence.

An emotive ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance dominated the opening day of her first visit to the Republic.

The queen took five steps back and bowed toward the monument after placing a laurel wreath before it. All visiting heads of state are expected to honour the national dead in this way, but the moment was deeply symbolic for Anglo-Irish relations.

The British national anthem God Save The Queen was played by the Irish Army band at the start of the 15-minute ceremony and the Last Post at its end. Jeers from hard-line republican opponents to the royal visit could be heard at intervals as trouble broke out in streets close to the Garden of Remembrance. President Mary McAleese also laid a wreath, as Enda Kenny and former taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern looked on.

The poem Rinneadh Aisling Dúinn (We Saw A Vision) was read aloud in Irish by Capt Joe Freeley, from the Second Infantry Battalion in Cathal Brugha Barracks, during the event.

Mr Kenny said the wreath-laying ceremony marked a significant moment in the peace process and Mr Ahern said he was impressed by the queen’s show of respect to Irish freedom fighters.

A huge security operation was thrown around the event with overlooking rooftops patrolled as helicopters hovered in the air.

The sculpture that dominates the garden was unveiled in 1971 to mark the 50th anniversary of the truce between British and republican forces that led to independence. The garden first opened on the 50th anniversary of the near-by Easter Rising dedicated “to the memory of all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom”.

The queen continues the remembrance theme at Islandbridge today when she honours Irish people who fought and died in the world wars.

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