In Northern Ireland, where Charles III went, a British monarchy that is still divided

In Northern Ireland, where Charles III went, a British monarchy that is still divided

In Northern Ireland, where Charles III went, a British monarchy that is still divided

Maggie Walkie decorated her window with a portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II, surrounded by two small red crowns with perfectly kitschy white fur. On the wall of his modest house, in an impressive disorder, between terracotta dogs and yellowed family portraits, he hangs a plate of the 1977 Silver Jubilee. In a sideboard, a plate decorated with the portrait of the Queen Mother stands next to a platinum jubilee badge from June 2022. But above all, until the chain broke, he wore an Elizabeth II pendant around his neck. “So it was with me wherever I went. “ For this 80-year-old ultra-realist, the announcement of the ruler’s death came as a shock. “I had to sit down and shed a tear”explains.

Maggie Walkie displays her Queen Elizabeth II pendant in Belfast on 12 September 2022.

This sadness is much deeper, more political, than the pain expressed by many Brits who go to lay flowers in front of Buckingham Palace. Here in Shankill, a Protestant area of ​​Belfast, Northern Ireland, the queen was more than one ” Grandmother “ and the royal family is more than a symbol. It is a subject of struggle.

Read also: Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrived at Buckingham Palace; Charles III promises to serve “all the people” of Northern Ireland

“Our battle is ‘for the Queen and the country’) “, recalls Ether Calvert, 67, who came to lay flowers in front of a large mural of Elizabeth II. From the point of view of the unionists – the part of the population who want to remain in the UK – the monarchy is one of the essential links with England: it ensures the maintenance of Northern Ireland within the Motherland. When ” the enemy On the contrary, nationalist Catholics – who want them to be part of Ireland – call themselves “republicans”.

Passersby pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II in front of a mural in Shankhill Road (Belfast), 12 September 2022.

In this context, the death of Elizabeth II caused an outburst of emotion in the Protestant neighborhoods of Northern Ireland. Everywhere her portraits are displayed in the windows and flags with her effigy float on the street lamps. On Tuesday 13 September, unionists flocked to welcome Charles III in Belfast, first at Hillsborough Castle in the inner suburbs, then at a memorial mass at St Anne’s Cathedral in the city center.

Unionists came in large numbers to see Charles III's convoy in Belfast on 12 September 2022.

From one district of Belfast to another, a total contrast

The need to celebrate the monarchy is all the stronger as the unionist community is in a bad moment. Brexit, which he supported, created a border for goods sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, within the UK itself. Boris Johnson is considered by many to be a traitor who has fled Northern Ireland. “Right now it’s a bit difficult., recognizes Mark Foster, who paid homage to the Queen with his group of flutists in front of the portrait of Elizabeth II. But whatever the mistakes of the British government, there is always the royal family to cling to. “

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