The Queen traveled to nearly every country in the world during her reign, but there were some diplomatic moments that rise above all the rest—including her landmark state visit to Ireland in 2011.
Just weeks after their grandson’s glittering royal wedding, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh landed at Baldonnel Airport in Dublin to begin a groundbreaking state visit to the Republic of Ireland. The visit, which began on May 17, 2011, was the first by a British monarch since the coronation visit made by her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, in the summer of 1911. At that point, Ireland was still part of the British Empire. Today, it is an independent republic.
The Queen was greeted by her fellow head of state, President Mary McAleese, at the Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the President of Ireland in Dublin.
For her arrival, the Queen naturally wore green, accessorized with pearls and one of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Bow Brooches.
After an outfit change, the Queen visited Dublin Memorial Garden, where she lay a wreath.
She also toured Trinity College Dublin, where she was shown pages from the famous Book of Kells.
Her brooch for this part of the visit was the Grima Ruby Brooch, a sentimental 1960s gift from the Duke of Edinburgh.
On May 18, the Queen met with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny during a visit to Government Buildings on Merrion Street.
She lay a wreath of poppies at the Irish War Memorial Garden in Islandbridge.
And she and the Duke took a tour of the famous Guinness Storehouse, where they watched the professionals pour a perfect pint of Guinness.
The Queen’s brooch choice for the start of day two of the visit also had sentimental family ties. These diamond and aquamarine clip brooches were an 18th birthday gift from her father, King George VI.
One of the most important moments of the state visit was a stop at Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (and the site of a massacre perpetrated by British troops in 1920). The visit was one of many opportunities taken by the Queen to make some amends for historical wrongs during the trip. GAA President Christy Cooney, pictured here with the Queen and President McAleese, told the monarch that her decision to visit the stadium would help to advance the peace process.
For the Croke Park visit, the Queen wore pearls with the Australian Wattle Brooch. Australia is another nation where Gaelic sports are still played regularly today.
That evening, the Queen and the Duke were guests of honor at a state dinner hosted by President McAleese and Dr. Martin McAleese at Dublin Castle.
The Queen gave an important and memorable speech during the dinner, addressing her guests in Irish and touching on the deep hurts of the past. “We can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families,” she said. “To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”
For the dinner, the Queen wore diamonds, including several pieces of jewelry that belonged to Queen Mary, the last British queen consort to visit Ireland. The jewels included the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, the Diamond Floret Earrings, and the Modern Fringe Necklace. Her gown also featured another special embellishment: a Celtic harp made of crystals, another nod to her hosts.
There were more brooches over the next two days as well. For a visit to the Irish National Stud in Kildare, an equestrian moment that was surely a personal highlight for the Queen, she wore Prince Albert’s Brooch.
For a special reception highlighting British and Irish culture at Dublin’s Convention Center on the evening of day three, she wore pearls with a gift she had received during the visit: the Newgrange Brooch, a gift from President McAleese.
And on the final day of the visit, the Queen finally brought out a gleaming emerald. For a visit to Cork, she sported the Cambridge Emerald Cluster Brooch (without its pendant).