Martin McGuinness and The Queen’s historic and surprisingly friendly relationship

Martin McGuinness meets the Queen in 2012 [REX/Shutterstock]

Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s former deputy first minister and member of Sinn Féin, died today aged 66.

In an eventful political life, he ended up with one surprisingly good friend – the Queen.

He first met the Queen at a charity event in Belfast in 2012, where the two got along despite their political and ideological differences.

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The meeting was described as an historic event, with the potential to define “a new relationship between Britain and Ireland and between the Irish people themselves”, according to McGuinness.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, he said “I liked her courage in agreeing to meet with me; I liked the engagements that I’ve had with her.

“There’s nothing I have seen in my engagements with her that this is someone I should dislike – I like her.

“She knows my history. She knows I was a member of the IRA. She knows I was in conflict with her soldiers, yet both of us were prepared to rise above all of that.”

The Queen, for her part, was reported to be “happy with the way [the meeting] turned out” by her friend and Co-operation Ireland chairman Christopher Moran.

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton described the momentous handshake as “the most remarkable sign of change yet” in the Northern Ireland peace process.