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Queen urged consideration of Irish passport holders for garden party invites

Guests during a garden party at Buckingham Palace (PA)
Guests during a garden party at Buckingham Palace (PA)

The late Queen expressed a desire for Irish passport holders living in Northern Ireland to be considered for invitation to her garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

Newly released archives show that Stormont leaders were requested in 2001 to nominate potential garden party guests from “as wide a range as possible”.

The request was issued by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office to late First Minister David Trimble and late deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon.

Details were outlined in a confidential minute issued to senior colleagues by the then head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Gerry Loughran, in February 2001.

Buckingham Palace garden party
The Queen walks among guests during a Buckingham Palace Garden Party (PA)

“The First Minister and Deputy First Minister have been invited by the Lord Chamberlain’s office to nominate guests to attend garden parties hosted by Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace,” it read.

“The garden parties will be held on Wednesday 11 July, Wednesday 18 July and Wednesday 25 July.

“The Lord Chamberlain’s office have advised that those nominated should be drawn from as wide a range as possible and should not have previously attended one of Her Majesty’s Garden Parties.

“In his letter the Comptroller also advises that it is the Queen’s wish that the nominations may include residents in Northern Ireland who hold Irish passports.

“The First Minister and Deputy First Minister have agreed that, where possible, representatives from as diverse a range of interests and responsibilities, spread geographically across the region, should be brought together.

“They have also agreed that the nomination process will be handled by permanent secretaries who are able to draw on external working links and contacts across a wide range of their departments’ activities.

“The final list will be signed off by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.”

Mr Loughran stressed that spaces were limited, with each department allowed to make eight nominations, inclusive of guests’ partners or spouses, where applicable.

He said that a “small number of civil servants” would also be invited to the garden parties, and he encouraged his permanent secretaries to nominate two members of staff from their respective departments.

“Those nominated should include more junior ranking staff, including professional staff, to reward, for example, long services or particularly meritorious performance,” he added.