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  1. ITV Report

Queen unveils portrait of herself in honour of Anglo-Irish relations

The Queen has been praised for helping to set Anglo-Irish relations on a firmer footing as she unveiled a stunning portrait of herself commissioned to mark the work of a charity promoting reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

In the stunning setting of historic Crosby Hall, the home of Henry VIII's former chancellor Sir Thomas More, the Queen pulled a velvet cloth from the striking image painted by internationally acclaimed artist Colin Davidson.

The large canvas, roughly measuring 4ft by 5ft, depicted the Queen wearing a turquoise Karl Ludwig day dress and in reflective mood, with a hint of a smile on her face.

The Belfast-born artist, who has painted leading figures such as actors Liam Neeson and Brad Pitt, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Nobel Laureate poet Seamus Heaney, said after the unveiling: "I jested with her she was still talking to me which was good, and she absolutely agreed she still was talking to me - so I took quite a bit of heart from that."

Belfast-born artist Colin Davidson, and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which was unveiled by Her Majesty in London on Tuesday evening. Credit: PA

The Queen, who was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, is joint patron of Co-operation Ireland - together with Irish president Michael D Higgins - which commissioned Mr Davidson to paint the monarch.

Since 1979 the charity has been encouraging interaction, dialogue and practical collaboration, both within Northern Ireland and between the country and the Republic of Ireland.

It has a vision of a peaceful and stable island where people of all backgrounds live and work together for a better future.

The Queen made a historic state visit to Ireland in 2011 when her presence of Irish soil - the first by a British monarch since Ireland gained independence from Britain - heralded a new chapter in Anglo-Irish relations.

The head of state's conciliatory words and gestures during the tour won over many critics of the monarchy, and the Irish people appeared to visibly warm to their royal guest.

Then the following year another watershed moment came when the Queen and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness shook hands at a cultural event in Belfast's Lyric Theatre, where Mr Davidson's paintings were on display.

Mr McGuinness highlighted the Queen's ground-breaking state visit to Ireland and said: "I think she's made a tremendous contribution to support the whole process of peace and reconciliation."

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