Princess Diana had ‘obvious ignorance of’ Northern Ireland, unsealed Irish note says | UK News

Princess Diana showed an “obvious ignorance of, or disregard for” Northern Ireland being distinct from Ireland, according to a newly unsealed note from an ambassador written in 1993.

Joseph Small, the then Irish ambassador in London, wrote the claim about the then Princess of Wales in a briefing document before President Mary Robinson’s visit to Buckingham Palace.

“Whenever we meet Prince Charles, he invariably says that he would love to visit Ireland,” Mr Small’s note dated 21 May 1993, said.

“He is, of course, a regular visit (sic) to Northern Ireland. Princess Diana has also been there.

“Early last year she said to me, with obvious ignorance of, or disregard for, constitutional niceties: ‘I was in your country yesterday!'”

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27/5/1993, Queen Elizabeth II with President of Ireland Mary Robinson at Buckingham Palace. Pic: PA
Queen Elizabeth II with President of Ireland Mary Robinson at Buckingham Palace in 1993

Other unsealed documents show that the Irish president Patrick Hillery’s decision to decline an invitation to the wedding of Charles and Diana sparked concern from officials in June 1981.

A briefing note on how to respond to the invite asked whether a reply should be issued after the Irish general election, or whether it would be “discourteous” to do so.

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The note also considered that as it was a “negative” reply, “it would seem desirable to offer a diplomatic excuse”, as no decent reason being given could be “misinterpreted both domestically and internationally”.

“The press will certainly ask the reason for the non-attendance,” it added.

The wedding invitations were issued a month after IRA prisoner Bobby Sands died following a 66-day-long hunger strike, while campaigning to be treated as a political prisoner.