The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have made a surprise virtual appearance to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and praise the ‘friendship between the UK and Ireland’.
Prince William, 38, and Kate, 39, who are now back in London after spending lockdown in their Norfolk country home, Anmer Hall, joined in a short film for the Irish government to mark its national day.
The duke, who sported an appropriate green jumper, started off the couple’s message by speaking in Irish, saying: ‘Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh’ – which means ‘Happy St Patrick’s Day’.
Kate, wearing an emerald blazer, thought to cost £59.99 from Zara, as well as her Daniella Draper shamrock necklace, said: ‘We’re delighted to wish you all a very Happy St Patrick’s Day,’ before her husband quipped that she ‘got the easy bit’.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (pictured) have made a surprise virtual appearance to celebrate St Patrick’s Day
Prince William replied: ‘How come you got that easy bit?’, before adding: ‘We were so thrilled to be able to visit Ireland just over a year ago, a few short weeks before all of our lives were turned upside down by the pandemic.’
Kate continued: ‘The warm welcome that we received everywhere was a testament to the friendship between our two countries and the strength of the relationship between the UK and Ireland.’
Prince William added: ‘We know that for Irish people all around the world today won’t be the same as normal, but we hope that you can celebrate safely in any case.’
The couple, who joined American President Joe Biden and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the clip, signed off their message by saying: ‘Happy St Patrick’s Day.’
Traditionally at this time of year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the St Patrick’s Day parade with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, where Prince William gives the salute and Kate hands out shamrocks to the officers.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge attend a reception at the Guinness Storehouse’s Gravity Bar, hosted by the British Ambassador to Ireland, on the first day of their 3 day visit to Dublin, Ireland, in March 2020
The Cambridges carried out their first official tour of Ireland in March 2020 – visiting Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, the Guinness Storehouse, as well as enjoying a walk along a coastal cliff path near Howth in County Dublin.
The couple’s appearance comes after the Queen yesterday extended her warm wishes to the Irish people ahead of St Patrick’s day.
In a touching message emphasising the importance of family and partnership, Her Majesty conveyed her ‘best wishes’ to the Irish President Michael D Higgins and the people of Ireland.
The Queen also made mention of her historic 2011 visit to Ireland – a trip she said she remembered ‘fondly’.
Ahead of St Patrick’s Day, tomorrow, her message read: ‘On the occasion of your National Day, I would like to convey to Your Excellency my congratulations, together with my best wishes to the people of Ireland.
The Queen yesterday extended her warm wishes to the Irish people ahead of St Patrick’s day. Pictured: The Queen meets with Irish President Michael D Higgins
The Queen shared the message (pictured) on social media ahead of St Patrick’s Day tomorrow
A historic moment in diplomatic relations between the UK and Ireland: The Queen’s famous 2011 visit
Queen Elizabeth II became the first British Monarch to visit Ireland for a century when she made the short trip across the Irish sea in 2011.
Her grandfather George V was the last King to visit in 1911 before the Republic had secured independence.
But diplomatic tension and the threat of terrorism from the IRA meant a royal visit was off limits.
However, the Queen had long desired the chance to one day visit Ireland.
Prior to her 2011 visit, the Queen is said to have told former Irish President Mary Robinson that one of her lifelong wishes was to attend the races in Ireland.
Her visit came following drastically improved diplomatic relations between Westminster and Dublin, following the historic Good Friday Northern Ireland peace agreement in 1998.
During the four day visit, she famously paid a fashion tribute to her Irish hosts by wearing a long green coat as she ended her state visit.
And in a moment of history, she shared a handshake with then mayor of Cashel, Michael Browne – from the staunchly republican Sinn Fein party.
She toured the majestic Rock of Cashel, imposing ancient ruins perched on a hill on the outskirts of the Co Tipperary town, visited the National Stud Farm in Kildare and Croke Park in Dublin.
And, on a quarter mile stretch of Cork city’s Washington Street, bakers, taxi drivers, teachers, waitresses, students, estate agents and shop workers lined the route for hours to catch a glimpse of her and the Duke of Edinburgh.
During a speech she acknowledged the ‘sad and regrettable’ history between Britain and Ireland.
The speech is regarded as one of her most diplomatically important of her reign.
Though the Queen was widely welcomed by the Irish people, not all were impressed, including then Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
During the 2011 visit, he said the Irish people were ‘disappointed’ because Queen did not apologise for British involvement in Northern Ireland.
‘This year marks ten years since my visit to Ireland, which I remember fondly, and it marks a significant centenary across these islands.
‘We share ties of family, friendship and affection – the foundation of our partnership that remains as important today as ten years ago.
She signed off in the Irish language: ‘La Fheile Padraig sona daoibh go leir.’
In response Mr Higgins extended his ‘warmest appreciation for your good wishes on our national day’ and described her 2011 visit as a ‘moment of healing’.
Mr Higgins said: ‘Your special memory of your visit to Ireland ten years ago this year, is one that is shared and invoked regularly by all of us in Ireland, being as it was in its generosity of spirit such a moment of healing.
‘It has done so much to deepen our shared sense of the breadth and vibrancy of the connection between our two countries at every level.
‘It will continue to inspire the achievement of those possibilities in the future that we might share.’
He said St Patrick’s Day would be celebrated in the hearts of generations of Irish people who have made their home in Britain, and their British friends and family, as well as by the many British people who have happily made their home in Ireland.
‘I know that the movement and circulation of our peoples is a source of continuing joy for us both,’ he added.
Mr Higgins ended his message in Irish, wishing the Queen and her family a happy and peaceful St Patrick’s Day: ‘Guim La Fheile Padraig sona agus siochanta ort agus ar do mhuintir’.
It comes as hundreds of extra police officers will be on duty for a ‘robust’ response to St Patrick’s Day rule breakers.
The country is currently under the Irish Government’s toughest Covid measures – Level 5.
Much like the UK, the rules include an order to stay at home, except for work, education or other essential reasons and exercise. They are set to stay in place until April 5.
Substantial numbers of police will patrol beauty spots and the Holylands in Belfast to break up house parties.
Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) assistant chief constable Alan Todd said people knew the rules and those breaking them could expect to face stiff fines.
He said: ‘The four Es approach starts now.
‘If people breach that…then they can expect a robust response.’
The four Es stands for the graduated policing response adopted during the pandemic including engaging, explaining and encouraging before enforcing.
Mr Todd said people who had been fined before risked even tougher penalties.