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The Queen shares special memory of Prince Philip in sweet message

"I look back with fondness..."

Fiona Ward

The Queen has spoken of the special time she shared with her late husband Prince Philip in Northern Ireland in a message to the country to mark its centenary.

In the statement, she recalled "with fondness" the trip she took there with the Duke of Edinburgh nearly a decade ago, adding that she treasured her memories.

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The message, which was signed off 'Elizabeth R', began: "A century ago, the Government of Ireland Act came into effect, and today marks a significant centenary for both the United Kingdom and Ireland. This anniversary reminds us of our complex history, and provides an opportunity to reflect on our togetherness and our diversity."

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It continued: "In Northern Ireland today, there is, perhaps more than ever, a rich mix of identities, backgrounds and aspirations, and an outward-looking and optimistic mindset.

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"The political progress in Northern Ireland and the peace process is rightly credited to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division. But above all, the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests.

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The Queen and Prince Philip's state visit to Ireland in 2011

"It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment. During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions."

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The Queen and Prince Philip last visited Northern Ireland in 2016

Speaking of her visit to the country with her husband, she added: "I also wish to recognise the important contribution made by our friends and closest neighbours towards the success of Northern Ireland. I look back with fondness on the visit Prince Philip and I paid to Ireland, 10 years ago this month. I treasure my many memories, and the spirit of goodwill I saw at first hand.

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It concluded: "Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process. May this be our guiding thread in the coming years. I send my warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland. Elizabeth R."

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