The English suspicion of “all things European” harks back centuries—a suspicion certainly reinforced by the Spanish Armada, Napoleon and Adolph Hitler. For many Britons, there have been too many continental tyrants who have cast covetous eyes on their “sceptered isle.” Englishmen have eschewed any ruler who wants to impose his will on a nation whose people value their freedom more than almost anyone else in Europe. Why has this been so?
“A Uachtarain agus a chairde” (“President and friends”). These warm words of respect were spoken by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, at a state banquet speech in Dublin Castle during her first historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011. Ireland’s President, Mary McAleese, had extended the invitation to the Queen to visit her country and was the first Irish leader to do so. The President was visibly surprised by the Queen’s words and mouthed the word, “Wow!” when she heard the Queen speak in Ireland’s native Gaelic tongue.