The Guardian reports:
The long, smiling handshake between Gerry Adams and Prince Charles, balancing an informal cup of tea in one hand, was a historic moment not only because it was the first such encounter in the Republic since partition. It happened only because each of them was prepared to look beyond old wounds that as Mr Adams, the Sinn Féin president, acknowledged, have not been entirely healed by peace. For both, it was an encounter of personal significance that also challenged the prejudices of their supporters. It was an unusual moment of collective conciliation between a symbol of republicanism and a symbol of British monarchy – and a moment of almost intimate forgiveness.
It is more than 35 years since Lord Mountbatten, his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, 14, and a 15-year-old local boy, Paul Maxwell, were blown up by the Provisional IRA at a time when Mr Adams was what is coyly described as a “leading figure” in the republican movement. At the time, he justified the murders by claiming that Mountbatten was too old a soldier not to be aware of the “danger involved in coming to this country”.
Adams’ defence of the Mountbatten murders was vile. Mountbatten was like a grandfather to Prince Charles, and shaking the hands of the apologist for his murder would be no easy thing to do.But it is what the job requires, for the good of the United Kingdom.
For Prince Charles, with apparent warmth, to shake hands with the man who was at the least an apologist for the murder of Mountbatten, who had been the prince’s lifelong mentor and friend, suggests a very personal and indeed admirable act of forgiveness.
An admirable act of duty also.