100 years old: Low-key centenary for Northern Ireland

100 years old: Low-key centenary for Northern Ireland

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A display on grass celebrating the 100 year centenary of Northern Ireland, in Ballyduff, Newtonabbey, Northern Ireland, Monday, May 3, 2021. Queen Elizabeth II has stressed the need for “reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding” as she sent her “warmest best … more >

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By PAN PYLAS

Associated Press

Monday, May 3, 2021

LONDON (AP) – Northern Ireland marked what is widely considered to be its centenary on Monday, with Queen Elizabeth II stressing the need for “reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding” as she sent her “warmest good wishes” to its people.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a visit to London, said the U.S. will continue to encourage the U.K. and the European Union “to prioritize political and economic stability in Northern Ireland” as they work through their post-Brexit relationship.

Northern Ireland was created on May 3, 1921, when the Government of Ireland Act came into effect and partitioned the island of Ireland into two separate entities. Northern Ireland became part of the U.K. alongside England, Scotland and Wales, while Ireland would later that year become what was then known as the Irish Free State.

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Much like the day that Northern Ireland was founded 100 years ago, there were no huge celebrations or grand ceremonies Monday, given the sharply differing views on its creation and subsequent history. Restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic have also led to all commemorations this year being scaled back.

Since its creation, Northern Ireland society has been split between those who want to remain in the U.K. and those who wish to see Northern Ireland become part of the Republic of Ireland. For decades, that fissure fueled sectarian violence: the so-called Troubles, which resulted in around 3,500 deaths.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 formalized power-sharing arrangements between unionists and nationalists. It’s not always been a smooth process politically, with the two sides often unable to reach agreement on how to govern, and there’s been sporadic outbreaks of violence.

“This anniversary reminds us of our complex history, and provides an opportunity to reflect on our togetherness and our diversity,” the queen said in a statement.

“It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment,” she added.

The queen also referred to “treasured” memories she shared in Northern Ireland with her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last month at 99.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also marked the date, describing it as a “very significant” anniversary and stressed the importance of reflecting on the “complex history” of the past 100 years.

“People from all parts of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and across the globe, will approach this anniversary in different ways, with differing perspectives,” he said.

In recent weeks, there have been outbreaks of violence across Northern Ireland, with the unionist community particularly aghast at post-Brexit trade rules that took effect this year. These imposed customs checks on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K., which did not exist when the U.K. was part of the EU.

Blinken urged all politicians and parties to prioritize peace and stability.

“The United States remains a steadfast supporter of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland, in which all communities have a voice and can enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace,” he told reporters on Monday.

Although no major celebrations were held, plans to mark the centenary this year included tree-planting projects. Every school was given a native tree to plant in their grounds and many will explore what the future will look like in the next 100 years.

“Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process,” the queen said. “May this be our guiding thread in the coming years.”

Prince William, Kate release images to mark 10th anniversary

Prince William, Kate release images to mark 10th anniversary

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In this photo provided by Camera Press and released Wednesday, April 28, 2021, is Britain’s Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, at Kensington Palace photographed this week in London, England. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrate their tenth … more >

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By DANICA KIRKA

Associated Press

Thursday, April 29, 2021

LONDON (AP) – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge marked their 10th wedding anniversary Thursday by releasing photographs and a video offering an image of domestic bliss – a contrast to the tensions that have gripped Britain’s royal family in recent weeks.

Two photographs show Prince William, second-in-line to the throne, and the former Kate Middleton in complementary shades of blue. A video released later showed the family at play, replete with their smiling children walking near the sea.

William married his former university flatmate on April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony televised globally. They have three children: Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 3. The traditional gift for a 10th wedding anniversary is tin, a symbol of durability.

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“Thank you to everyone for the kind messages on our wedding anniversary,” the couple said on their Twitter feed. “We are enormously grateful for the 10 years of support we have received in our lives as a family.”

The celebration comes 12 days after the funeral of Prince Philip, William’s grandfather, who died April 9 at the age of 99.

Last month, the family was rocked by an interview in which Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, alleged that palace staff had been insensitive toward Meghan and a member of the royal family had made racist comments about the couple’s first child. Harry, William’s younger brother, stepped away from royal duties last year and moved to California with his wife and son.

U.K. palace ends silence on Harry, Meghan racism allegations

U.K. palace ends silence on Harry, Meghan racism allegations

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In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018, file photo Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and from left, Meghan the Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate the Duchess of Cambridge watch a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft pass over … more >

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By Danica Kirka

Associated Press

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

LONDON (AP) — Buckingham Palace issued a statement Tuesday, saying the family was saddened to learn of the challenges Harry and Meghan had faced in the past few years — and that they would address the issues privately.

The palace said the “issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning,’’ and are taken very seriously.

Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members,’’ the statement said.

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The statement is the first comment by the palace following Harry and Meghan’s two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they alleged that Meghan had experienced racism and callous treatment during her time in the royal family.

Earlier, some observers had said that Buckingham Palace’s silence on the topic has only added to the furor surrounding the TV interview.

The interview, which aired Sunday night in the U.S. and a day later in Britain, has rocked the royal family and divided people around the world. While many say the allegations demonstrate the need for change inside a palace that hasn’t kept pace with the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, others have criticized Harry and Meghan for dropping their bombshell while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather, Prince Philip, remains hospitalized in London after a heart procedure.

The interview, which aired Sunday night in the U.S. and a day later in Britain, has rocked the royal family and divided people around the world. While many say the allegations demonstrate the need for change inside a palace that hasn’t kept pace with the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, others have criticized Harry and Meghan for dropping their bombshell while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather, Prince Philip, remains hospitalized in London after a heart procedure.

During the two-hour interview, Meghan described feeling so isolated and miserable inside the royal family that she had suicidal thoughts, yet when she asked for mental health help from the palace’s human resources staff she was told she was not a paid employee. She also said a member of the royal family had expressed “concerns” to Harry about the color of her unborn child’s skin.

Winfrey later said Harry told her off camera that the family member wasn’t Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip, sparking a flurry of speculation about who it could be.

Harry also revealed the stresses the couple endured had ruptured relations with his father, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and his brother, Prince William, illuminating the depth of the family divisions that led the couple to step away from royal duties and move to California last year.

Prince Charles didn’t comment on the interview Tuesday during a visit to a vaccine clinic in London.

Harry’s father visited a church to see a temporary vaccine clinic in action and met with health care workers, church staff and people due to receive their vaccine jab. The visit was his first public appearance since the interview aired in the U.S. on Sunday night.

Maziya Marzook, a patient at the event, said “private matters didn’t come up at all” during Charles’ visit.

“He didn’t bring up anything,″ Marzook said. “He was more interested in how the vaccine was and how we feel.”

___

Sylvia Hui contributed to this report.

___

Follow all stories on Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview at https://apnews.com/PrinceHarry

Explosive Harry, Meghan interview reverberates across globe

Explosive Harry, Meghan interview reverberates across globe

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Australian newspapers report in Sydney, Tuesday, March 9, 2021, on an interview of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex by Oprah Winfrey. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) more >

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By Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless

Associated Press

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry and Meghan‘s explosive TV interview divided people around the world on Monday, rocking an institution that is struggling to modernize with claims of racism and callousness toward a woman struggling with suicidal thoughts.

During the two-hour appearance with Oprah Winfrey, Harry also revealed the problems had ruptured relations with his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, illuminating the depth of the family divisions that led the couple to step away from royal duties and move to California last year.

The palace has not yet responded to the interview, in which Meghan described feeling so isolated and miserable inside the royal family that she had suicidal thoughts and said a member of the family had “concerns” about the color of her unborn child’s skin.

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The family member was not Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip, according to Harry, sparking a flurry of speculation about who it could be.

Leaders around the world were asked about the interview, and citizens of many countries had an opinion. 

In Accra, Ghana, Devinia Cudjoe said that hearing that a member of the royal family was worried about the color of the skin of an unborn child was insulting to people of the Commonwealth, the grouping of Britain and its former colonies that is headed by the queen.

“That is pure racism,” Cudjoe said. “(The) Commonwealth is supposed to foster unity, oneness amongst black people, amongst white people. But if we are hearing things like this … I think that is below the belt.”

In Nairobi, Kenya, Rebecca Wangare called Meghan “a 21st-century icon of a strong woman. She has faced racism head-on.”

Asma Sultan, a journalist in Karachi, Pakistan, said the interview “is going to tarnish the image of the royal family.”

“There is so much controversy ever since Diana’s death, so it is new Pandora box which is opened up,” she said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to comment on the interview, praising the queen but saying that “when it comes to matters to do with the royal family the right thing for a prime minister to say is nothing.”

Asked whether U.S. President Joe Biden and his wife Jill had any reaction to the interview, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Meghan‘s decision to speak about her struggles with mental health “takes courage” and “that’s certainly something the president believes in.” 

But she said she wouldn’t offer additional comment on the situation “given these are private citizens, sharing their own story and their own struggles.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the interview bolstered his argument for Australia severing its constitutional ties to the British monarchy. Turnbull met the couple in April 2018, four months before he was replaced by current Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an internal power struggle within the conservative government.

“It’s clearly an unhappy family, or at least Meghan and Harry are unhappy. It seems very sad,” Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “After the end of the queen’s reign, that is the time for us to say: OK, we’ve passed that watershed. Do we really want to have whoever happens to be the head of state, the king or queen of the U.K., automatically our head of state?”

Britain’s monarch is Australia’s head of state. Turnbull was a leading advocate for Australia selecting an Australian citizen as its head of state when he was chairman of the Australian Republican Movement from 1993 to 2000.

News of the interview was reported in Chinese state media, including the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, People’s Daily, and was widely discussed on the popular Weibo social media platform.

The allegations are especially damaging because many observers hoped Harry and Meghan, who is biracial, would help the tradition-bound monarchy relate to an increasingly multicultural nation. In the early days of their marriage, Harry and Meghan joined William and his wife, Catherine, in projecting a glamorous, energetic image for the young royals.

That partnership was severed when Harry and Meghan left the country, saying they wanted to earn their own living and escape what they called intrusive, racist coverage by the British media.

But the interview brought that criticism into the palace itself, with the couple directing allegations of racism at an unidentified member of the royal family.

Meghan said that when she was pregnant with her son, Archie, Harry told her that the royal family had had “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” 

Harry confirmed the conversation, saying: “I was a bit shocked.” He said he wouldn’t reveal who made the comment. Winfrey later said Harry told her the comment didn’t come from Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip, his grandparents.

Meghan, 39, acknowledged she was naive at the start of her relationship with Harry and unprepared for the strictures of royal life. A successful actress before her marriage, she said she bridled at the controlling nature of being royal, squirming at the idea that she had to live on terms set by palace staff. This was compounded by the fact that the staff refused to help her when she faced racist attacks from the media and internet trolls, she said.

The situation became so difficult that at one point, “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Meghan told Winfrey.

But when she sought help through the palace’s human resources department, she was told there was nothing it could do because she wasn’t an employee, Meghan said.

The implications for the interview — which was broadcast Sunday evening in the United States and will air in Britain on Monday night — are only beginning to be understood. Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello! Magazine, said the revelations had left her and many other viewers “shell-shocked.”

“I don’t see how the palace can ignore these allegations, they’re incredibly serious,” she said. “You have the racism allegations. Then you also have the claim that Meghan was not supported, and she sought help even from the HR team within the household and was told that she couldn’t seek help.” 

The younger royals have made campaigning for support and awareness around mental health one of their priorities. But Harry said the royal family was completely unable to offer that support to its own members.

“For the family, they very much have this mentality of ‘This is just how it is, this is how it’s meant to be, you can’t change it, we’ve all been through it,’” Harry said.

The couple had faced severe criticism in the United Kingdom before the interview. Prince Philip, 99, is in a London hospital recovering from a heart procedure, and critics saw the decision to go forward as being a burden on the queen — even though CBS, rather than Harry and Meghan, dictated the timing of the broadcast.

In the United States, sympathy for the couple poured in. Tennis star Serena Williams, a friend who attended Harry and Meghan‘s wedding, said on Twitter that the duchess’s words “illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced.”

“The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal,” Williams added.

Britain could be less forgiving once the full interview is broadcast, since some see the pair as putting personal happiness ahead of public duty.

Meghan — then known as Meghan Markle, who had starred on the American TV legal drama “Suits” — married Harry at Windsor Castle in May 2018. 

But even that was not what it seemed: The couple revealed in the interview that they exchanged vows in front of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby three days before their spectacular wedding ceremony at the castle.

Archie was born the following year and in a rare positive moment in the interview, the couple revealed their second child, due in the summer, would be a girl. 

Harry said he had lived in fear of a repeat of the fate of his mother, Princess Diana, who was covered constantly by the press and died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.

“What I was seeing was history repeating itself, but definitely far more dangerous — because then you add race in, and you add social media in,” Harry said.

Both Meghan and Harry praised the support they had received from the monarch.

“The queen has always been wonderful to me,” Meghan said.

But Harry revealed he currently has a poor relationship with William and said things got so bad with his father that at one point Prince Charles stopped taking his calls.

“There is a lot to work through there,” Harry said of his father. “I feel really let down. He’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson. I will always love him, but there is a lot of hurt that has happened.”

___

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you can seek help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States on 1-800-273-8255. The Samaritans in the United Kingdom can be reached on 116 123.

Meghan and Harry in Oprah Winfrey interview explain royal rift

Race, title and suicidal thoughts: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift in Oprah Winfrey’s interview

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This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, left, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” airs March 7, 2021. Britain’s royal family and television have a … more >

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By Jonathan Landrum Jr.

Associated Press

Sunday, March 7, 2021

LOS ANGELES — In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday, Harry and Meghan described painful discussions about the color of their son’s skin, losing royal protection and the intense pressures that led the Duchess of Sussex to contemplate suicide.

The interview with Oprah Winfrey was the couple’s first since they stepped down from royal duties and the two-hour special included numerous revelations likely to reverberate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Harry told Winfrey that he felt trapped by royal life and was surprised that he was cut off financially and lost his security last year. He also said he felt his family did not support Meghan, who acknowledged her naivete about royal life before marrying Harry, as she endured tabloid attacks and false stories.

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Meghan, who is biracial, described that when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” The statement led Winfrey to ask “What,” incredulously and sit in silence for a moment.

In a rare positive moment in the interview, Harry and Meghan revealed their second would be a girl. The interview opened with Winfrey gushing over Meghan‘s pregnancy and lamenting that COVID-19 protocols kept them from hugging.

The interview was in the United States a full day before it will air in Britain. The revelations aren’t over: Winfrey teased additional bits of the interview would be shown Monday morning on CBS.

In response to a question from Winfrey, Harry said he wouldn’t have left royal life if not for his wife, the actor formerly known as Meghan Markle who starred in the TV drama “Suits.” He said their relationship revealed the strictures of royal life.

“I wouldn’t have been able to, because I myself was trapped,” Harry said. “I didn’t see a way out.

“I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said, before adding, “My father and my brother, they are trapped.”

Harry acknowledged that he does not have a close relationship presently with his brother William, who is heir to the throne after their father, Prince Charles.

Harry disputed rumors that he intentionally blindsided his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, with his decision to split. He suspects the rumors came from the institution.

“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,” he said. “I have too much respect for her.”

Meghan, too, was complimentary toward the queen, despite saying at one point she realized some in the palace were willing to lie to “protect other members of the family.” 

“The queen has always been wonderful to me,” Meghan said.

Winfrey at various points in the interview ran through headlines about Meghan and at one point asked about the mental health impact. Meghan responded that she experienced suicidal thoughts and had sought help through the palace’s human resources department, but was told there was nothing they could do.

Meghan said she grew concerned about her son not having a royal title because it meant he wouldn’t be provided security. 

Meghan said digesting everything while pregnant was “very hard.” More than the “prince” title, she was the most concerned about her son’s safety and protection. 

“He needs to be safe,” a teary-eyed Meghan recalled. “We’re not saying don’t make him a prince or princess, whatever it’s going to be. But if you’re saying the title is going to affect their protection, we haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of click bait and tabloid fodder. You’ve allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe.”

Meghan said it was hard for her to understand why there were concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin color. She said it was hard for her to “compartmentalize” those conversations.

Harry, too, said there are lasting impacts about Meghan‘s treatment and his relationship with his family.

“There is a lot to work through there,” Harry said about his relationship with his father. “I feel really let down. He’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson. I will always love him, but there is a lot of hurt that has happened.”

Harry said the royal family cut him off financially at the start of 2020 after announcing plans to step back from his roles. But he was able to afford security for his family because of the money his mother, Princess Diana, left behind. 

Sunday’s interview special opened with Meghan describing how naive she was about the ground rules of royal life before she married her husband, Harry, nearly three years ago.

“I didn’t fully understand what the job was,” she said. She also noted that she did not know how to curtsy before meeting Queen Elizabeth II for the first time, and didn’t realize it would be necessary.

“I will say I went into it naively because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family,” Meghan said. “It wasn’t something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed.”

Meghan said she and Harry were aligned during their courtship because of their “cause-driven” work. But she did not fully comprehend the pressure of being linked to the prestigious royal family.

“It’s easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality,” she said. “And that’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things. And you’re being judged on the perception, but you’re living the reality of it. There’s a complete misalignment and there’s no way to explain that to people.”

The couple married at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and their son, Archie, was born a year later.

At the top of the interview, Winfrey said no topic was off-limits and that Meghan and Harry were not being paid for the special.

Royal interviews that aren’t tied to a specific topic are rare, and prior televised sessions have often proved problematic. Prince Andrew’s 2019 BBC interview about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein led to his own departure from royal duties after he failed to show empathy for Epstein’s victims.

Harry and Meghan‘s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess.

In Britain, the interview is seen as poorly timed. It will air while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip remains hospitalized in London after undergoing a heart procedure.

It is unclear what public reaction, if any, the queen and other royal family members will have to Sunday’s interview. The U.K.’s Sunday Times newspaper, citing an anonymous source, reported that the queen would not watch it. 

Queen Elizabeth II and husband receive COVID-19 vaccinations

Queen Elizabeth II and husband receive COVID-19 vaccinations

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In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 file photo, Britain’s Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II bid farewell to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, and his wife Maria Clemencia de Santos, following their state visit, at Buckingham Palace in London. Queen … more >

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By

Associated Press

Saturday, January 9, 2021

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, have received their COVID-19 vaccinations, royal officials said Saturday.

Buckingham Palace officials said in a statement that the 94-year-old monarch and Philip, 99, received their jabs Saturday, joining some 1.5 million people in Britain who have been given a first dose of a vaccine.

The injections were administered at Windsor Castle, where the queen and her husband have been spending their time during the lockdown in England.

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Royal officials said they took the rare step of commenting on the monarch’s health in order to prevent inaccuracies and further speculation. The queen “decided that she would let it be known she has had the vaccination,” the palace statement said.

On Dec. 8, Britain became the world’s first country to begin a mass vaccination drive against the coronavirus. The government says it is aiming to deliver the first vaccine doses to some 15 million people in the top priority groups by the middle of February.

That includes everyone over age 70, as well as frontline health care workers, care home residents and anyone whose health makes them especially vulnerable to the virus.