‘The Queen She Came to Call on Us’

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The rituals of state visits rarely excite much interest beyond the narrow range of those obliged to participate. Their set format is designed to standardise expressions of esteem between the host country and that of the visiting dignitary.

The state visit of Queen Elizabeth in 2011 burst the constraints of routine formality. As the first state visit by a British monarch, every detail was invested with a significance, which was reflected in the careful preparations.

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Dermot McCarthy