Nightly News   |  May 17, 2011

Queen's Ireland visit filled with symbolism

While London to Dublin is the equivalent of flying from Philadelphia to Boston, it's something many people didn't think they'd see in their lifetime. NBC's John Yang reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Up next here tonight, a visit many thought would never happen.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Finally here tonight, as we said earlier, a visit many thought would never happen. The queen of England today visited Ireland . And while it's not quite Nixon to China , and while London to Dublin is just a short flight, it's something a lot of people never thought they'd see in their lifetime because of the troubles between the two neighbors that go way back. From Dublin tonight, NBC 's John Yang reports on a trip that was indeed a long time coming.

JOHN YANG reporting: Just a few years ago this would have been unthinkable, the queen of England welcomed on independent Irish soil -- wearing emerald green, no less. The last British monarch to visit here, King George V 100 years ago. In between there's been a bloody war of independence and decades of conflict called " The Troubles " over Britain 's continued control of Northern Ireland . The queen herself lost a beloved cousin, Lord Mountbatten , killed by an IRA Bomb on his fishing boat off the Irish coast in 1979 . Today as an Irish military band played " God Save the Queen ," Queen Elizabeth laid a wreath at the memorial to Irish rebels killed at the hands of British forces .

Mr. JONATHAN HEALY (Newstalk Host): Now that we've reached the point in our nation's history that we're comfortable in our own skin, we can bring the monarch of Great Britain over here and still realize that we're an Irish nation and we can be proud of that.

YANG: Polls show most Irish welcomed the visit. Still, some want a united Ireland with the British out of the north.

Mr. DES DALTON (Republican Sinn Fein President): We don't want the queen of England in any part of our country. We say to her, you can keep your apologies. Take home your soldiers.

YANG: Security is tight, 8,000 police. That's two-thirds of all the police in Ireland ; the cost, a reported $40 million, a bigger operation than what's planned for next week when President Obama visits. For all the queen's reign, really for all of her 85 years, Ireland and Britain 's relationship has been marked by tragedy. Today there was hope that those troubles have finally been put to rest. John Yang , NBC News, Dublin .