Prince William pledges Royal Family will support friendship of UK and Ireland

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
The duke and duchess at the reception in the Museum of Literature. (Department of Foreign Affairs and the British Embassy)

Prince William has pledged his family’s support in maintaining the bonds of friendship between the UK and Ireland in a post-Brexit world, in a keynote speech in Dublin.

The duke urged the UK and Ireland not to be bound by the wrongs of the past as he continues to follow his grandmother’s footsteps across Ireland.

The Duke of Cambridge spoke at a reception hosted by Simon Coveney at the Museum of Literature as the second day of the tour in Ireland came to a close.

He was joined by the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore a purple Oscar de le Renta dress with a black belt, clutch and heels. The duke wore a dark blue suit for the occasion.

The duke said his family would be committed to the friendship between the nations. (Department of Foreign Affairs and the British Embassy)
The keynote speech marked the end of the second day of engagements. (Department of Foreign Affairs and the British Embassy)

In a keynote speech, the duke reflected on growing up seeing the violence between the UK and Ireland during the Troubles, and will highlight the importance of reconciliation.

He echoed a speech the Queen gave during her 2011 Ireland visit in which she spoke about the painful legacy of the past.

Speaking about the “precious bond” between the UK and Ireland, the duke said: “Of course, the changing relationship between the UK and the EU will require us to work together, to ensure that the relationship between Ireland and the UK remains just as strong.”

Read more: Prince William poses for selfies as royals pop to the shops in Ireland

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a reception hosted by Tanaiste, Simon Coveney. (Press Association)
A first edition copy of James Joyce's novel "Ulysses" is seen before it's shown to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. (Press Association)

He added: “Legal treaties are vital in underpinning the relationships between states.

“But relationships between people are equally, if not more essential – especially between the people of our two countries, whose lives, histories and futures are so deeply intertwined.

“I am confident that friendship, understanding and a shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous future will ensure that the unique and precious bond between our people is not broken.

“My family is determined to continue playing our part in protecting, preserving and strengthening that bond.”

Talking about how far the two nations have come, he said: “Today, our relationship goes far beyond two countries that are simply neighbours. 

“‘We are firm friends and equal partners’, as my grandmother put it. The links between our people, businesses and our culture are inextricable, and we should all be proud to see how strong those bonds are.”

Prince William raises his glass as he and his wife Catherine attend the reception. (Reuters)
A first edition copy of James Joyce's novel Ulysses is shown to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. (Press Association)

He continued: “Growing up I remember seeing the Troubles that took place, which affected so many people across the UK and Ireland.

“This explains why one of the truly profound moments for Catherine and I took place yesterday when we laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance.

“It was a reminder of the complexity of our shared history, and as my grandmother said during her visit in 2011, ‘our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache and turbulence’.

“But it was also a reminder of how far we have come. It is right that we continue to remember those who suffered as a consequence of our troubled past. And whilst many wrongs have been done, it is important that we are not bound by these.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the reception hosted by Simon Coveney. (Press Association)
The reception was hosted by Simon Coveney. (Getty Images)

Before the speech, the couple was shown the very first copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which dates from 1922.

The Cambridges have already followed in the Queen’s steps, after attending a reception at the Guinness Storehouse on Tuesday evening – where she was shown how to pour the perfect pint in 2011.

Read more: Prince William and Kate talk Brexit with Irish president in historic visit

William joked it wasn’t often he “followed the Queen into the pub” as he toasted a crowd made up of people from business, sport, and television sectors.

In 2011 the Queen became the first British monarch to visit Ireland since it gained independence in 2011.

She gave a powerful address at Dublin Castle in which she spoke about the need to remember those whose lives have been affected.

The duke and duchess laid a wreath in Dublin. (Press Association)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet Leo Varadkar, taoiseach of Ireland, and his partner Matt Barrett. (Press Association)

She said the relationship had not always been straightforward, but stopped short of an apology for Britain’s actions in Ireland, saying both nations could have acted differently.

The Cambridges are on a three-day tour of Ireland at the request of the Foreign Office and have made a series of political and charitable visits.

They had afternoon tea with president Michael D Higgins, with whom they discussed Brexit, and then paid a visit to outgoing prime minister Leo Varadkar.

The couple also laid a wreath at a memorial garden in Dublin that remembers those who gave their lives fighting for independence.

The duke and duchess with the president of Ireland and his wife. (Getty Images)

On day two, the royals visited Jigsaw in the city centre, a charity which helps children with their mental health, before going to a respite centre in County Kildare, where they mucked in and helped make lunch with young people.

They then travelled to a farm where they heard about plans for sustainability before taking a cliff top walk along Howth Head, and meeting the country’s environment minister.

The royals will spend Thursday in Galway before they travel back to the UK.