I hope you enjoy your stay in our country. I have to admit, the whole thing is causing me a few problems, and I’d appreciate it if you’d do your best to solve them whilst you’re there.
The first is the cost. Like any tourist, I’m delighted you’ve chosen to visit, and no doubt you’ll see the best that Ireland has to offer.
But unlike the vast majority of other visitors who will come to Ireland this year, we’ll pick up your tab. And with estimates of over €20 million it won’t be cheap.
The government tells us not to worry, because your visit will generate massive tourism revenues from the UK.
Aside from the fact that an awful lot of your subjects will have to come and spend an awful lot of money before we even begin to make back our original investment, I’m not convinced they wait to see what you’re up to before they go on Ryanair’s website and book their weekend away.
If they did, Balmoral would be an endless string of bed and breakfasts and souvenir stalls, and as far as I can remember you’ve never been to Torremelinos. But your people still go there in droves.
So I don’t believe this claptrap about your visit being good for tourism, not least because anything this or any other Irish government says should be taken with a massive pinch of salt, and preferably a large brandy and a Valium before being roundly ridiculed.
If it was about tourism, why not spend it giving British people free airline tickets to come visit us and spend their money in our hotels and pubs?
I really hope you prove me wrong and say the right things, loudly and often, about Ireland and industry and tourism in the coming days and months, seeing as it’s going to cost us twenty million or so. We deserve something for our money.
If you did, it would mark a major change, as you’ve been conspicuously silent on the subject of Ireland down through the years, despite laying claim to part of it.
Despite them being your subjects, I don’t ever remember you saying anything about Bloody Sunday, when the troops over which you were commander-in-chief shot down innocent people in the streets.
Nor do I remember you criticising Lord Widgery when he effectively slandered your slain subjects with his partisan report.
I don’t ever remember hearing of you begging with Your Majesty’s government to intervene when young Irish men in your jail were starving themselves to death, and for what? For five simple demands that could have advanced the peace process 20 years, long before the term was even invented.
I don’t remember you ever saying that internment without trial wasn’t a great idea, or questioning why the overwhelming majority of those detained were unwilling subjects of yours, whilst those loyal to you were allowed to go free.
Added to the tourism argument and your silence on the subject of Ireland is a more fundamental issue- I just don’t see the point. You’ve survived this long without making the short hop across the Irish Sea to see us, so why now?
Not wishing to be rude, but you ceased to be relevant (even to your own people) a long time ago, and your coming now is more an inconvenience than anything else. I’d rather see the money spent retaining special needs teachers or keeping hospital wings open.
Or even invested in some proper marketing of Ireland abroad; after all, people in Scandinavia still think that our country still belongs to you.
So maybe we could spend some of that €20 million explaining to them that we weren’t really involved in the BSE that ran rampant through your agriculture, or the foot and mouth epidemic- two incidents that Ireland continues to pay a heavy price for, despite being relatively untouched by them when compared to your country.
But most of all, I think your visit is sending the wrong message.
At a time when Ireland needs to get all hands to the pumps, strip away the fat and get itself lean, mean and working again, we invite someone like you – someone whose life, whose very existence is built on privilege and entitlement and expectation, solely caused by your being born in the right place at the right time.
Like many Irish people of my generation, I don’t believe in hereditary privilege. I believe in doing things on merit.
I believe in the inalienable rights of all human beings, including the right to grow up in safety and security, to receive an education and the right to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.
Ironically, a lot of these rights have been denied to Irish people during your time on the throne.
I believe in the dignity of work, and that anyone capable of working has the obligation to go out and do it, and that we as a society have a responsibility to give them the chance to do so.
Whatever little privileges there are in this world are to be earned, not demanded or expected as a matter of course by you and your family – or by bankers or politicians or anyone else.
I simply don’t believe that you – or they- are better than anyone else. Because you’re not.
Most of all, I believe that these rights bring us responsibilities, and that is where you have failed us most.
You had a responsibility to oversee the actions of your governments through the years, as well as your armed forces, but you did not do so. Why the interest now?
I ask these questions here because no-one in Ireland will be allowed to. Everything is being done to ensure that dissent is not part of your travel itinerary.
But at the very least, an apology to the Irish people and a neighbourly offer of help for the future should be. Even if it will be too little, and far too late.