William and Kate receive warm welcome from Dubliners at Garden of Remembrance

Crowds gathered in the shadow of the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin for an hour before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were due to arrive.

As they arrived, they were greeted with warm applause and cheers as patients in the nearby Mater Hospital peered out of the windows to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

“Welcome to Ireland,” cheered one woman from the crowd.

Kate, resplendent in a green Alessandra Rich dress, waved back and smiled to the delight of the crowd.

The couple’s first official visit to the Republic of Ireland was a much more welcoming affair compared with Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the same site in 2011, when Irish police were involved in scuffles with a small group of people protesting on the outskirts of the visit.

The Queen’s 2011 visit was made amid unprecedented security as she was the first British monarch to travel there in 100 years.

It was also hailed as a significant step in healing Anglo-Irish relations as she paid tribute to the Irish who died serving the British crown in two world wars at the Garden of Remembrance.

People await the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their visit to the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin
People await the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

A site of “quiet remembrance and reflection”, the memorial garden in the city centre’s Parnell Square is dedicated to the memory of “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom”.

It commemorates those who died in several uprisings, from the Irish Rebellion of 1798 to the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921.

The garden was opened in 1966 by President Eamon de Valera on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

After walking through the garden, and taking their positions on the sculpture platform, the couple watched a guard of honour from the Irish Defence Forces, before the military band, the Army No 1 Band, played the British national anthem for the future king and queen – something that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attending a wreath-laying ceremony as part of their visit to the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin
William and Kate attend a wreath-laying ceremony in the Garden of Remembrance (Gerry Mooney/PA)

A wreath was then laid for the duke and duchess by Corporals Anthony Reid and Ciaran McCormack, featuring a card on which, in William’s distinctive handwriting, was written the poignant message: “May we never forget the lessons of history as we continue to build a brighter future together.”

In a symbolic gesture reflecting an effort to cement post-Brexit Anglo-Irish relations between the countries, Kate and William bowed their heads and, eyes closed, paid their private tribute in a minute’s silence.

During the Queen’s visit, the sound of fireworks set off by republican protesters nearby could be heard.

But Tuesday’s minute’s silence was undisturbed.

A moment of reflection at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, which is dedicated to those who gave their lives for Irish independence #RoyalVisitIrelandpic.twitter.com/eacFviUawI

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 3, 2020

This was followed by a Piper’s Lament, played by Company Sergeant Kevin Duncan of the Defence Forces School of Music, and the Last Post.

Ireland’s national flag was then raised to full mast above the garden, during a reveille followed by Ireland’s national anthem.

During the ceremony, the duke and duchess were accompanied by Major General Sean Clancy, Deputy Chief of Staff (support), and Brigadier General Tony Cudmore.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge lay a wreath during a visit to the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin
The duke and duchess received a warm welcome in Dublin (Chris Jackson/PA)

As the couple left, another large crowd which had assembled along Parnell Square cheered and applauded.

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