Elaine Byrne: Queen Elizabeth II’s reign was a study in quietly effective leadership

Once seen as a symbol of imperial oppression, the British monarch earned many Irish people’s affection with her actions over time

Queen Elizabeth with President Mary McAleese during her May 2011 state visit to Ireland: her achievement was to humanise the British monarchy to the Irish people. Picture: Getty

No Irish minister attended the coronation of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey in London in June 1953. Nor did any member of Éamon de Valera’s government accept an invite to a garden party at the British embassy in Dublin to celebrate the new monarch.

Indeed, the Oireachtas archives reveal a studied silence around the very existence of the British head of state. Direct references to the queen were rare. When they did occur, ...