In Northern Ireland, where Charles III went, a British monarchy which still divides

Maggie Walkie decorated her window with a portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II, surrounded by two small red crowns with perfectly kitschy white fur. On the wall of her modest little house, in an impressive shambles, between earthenware dogs and yellowed family portraits, she hung a plate from the 1977 Silver Jubilee. In a cupboard, a plate decorated with a portrait of the queen mother rubs shoulders with a platinum jubilee badge from June 2022. But above all, until the chain broke, she wore a pendant of Elizabeth II around her neck. “That way she was with me wherever I went. » For this 80-year-old ultraroyalist, the announcement of the death of the sovereign was a shock. “I had to sit down and shed a tear”she explains.

Maggie Walkie shows off her Queen Elizabeth II pendant, in Belfast, September 12, 2022.

This sadness is much deeper, more political, than the grief expressed by many Britons who go to lay flowers in front of Buckingham Palace. Here in Shankill, a Protestant area of ​​Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Queen was more than a ” Grandmother “ and the royal family is more than a symbol. It is a subject of struggle.

Read also: Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin has arrived at Buckingham Palace; Charles III promises to serve ‘all the people’ of Northern Ireland

“Our fight is ‘for Queen and Country’) », recalls Ether Calvert, 67, who came to lay flowers in front of a large mural of Elizabeth II. From the point of view of the unionists – the part of the population which wants to remain in the United Kingdom -, the monarchy is one of the essential links with England: it ensures the maintenance of Northern Ireland within the Mother land. When ” the enemy Opposite, nationalist Catholics – who want them to be part of Ireland – call themselves “Republicans”.

Passers-by pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II in front of a mural in Shankhill Road (Belfast), September 12, 2022.

In this context, the death of Elizabeth II caused an outpouring of emotion in the Protestant neighborhoods of Northern Ireland. Everywhere, his portraits are exposed to the windows and flags with his effigy float on the lampposts. On Tuesday, September 13, Unionists came in large numbers to receive Charles III in Belfast, first at Hillsborough Castle, in the inner suburbs, then at a memorial mass at St. Anne’s Cathedral, in the city center.

Unionists came in large numbers to see the convoy of Charles III, in Belfast, on September 12, 2022.

From one district of Belfast to another, a total contrast

The need to celebrate the monarchy is all the stronger as the unionist community is in a bad patch. Brexit, which she supported, created a border for goods sent from Britain to Northern Ireland, within the UK itself. Boris Johnson is considered by many to be a traitor, who abandoned Northern Ireland. “It’s a little hard right now., recognizes Mark Foster, who paid homage to the Queen with his group of flautists in front of the portrait of Elizabeth II. But whatever the mistakes of the British government, there is always the royal family to hang on to. »

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