The historic handshake of Prince Charles and Gerry Adams

Prince Charles and Gerry Adams Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prince Charles met Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at a meeting at the University of Galway

A handshake - an everyday action for so many of us - is invested with so much more when it's in the context of the evolving and improving relationship between Britain and Ireland.

This one was once unthinkable. It lasted some 12 seconds.

The heir to the throne was carrying that most English of things - a cup of tea. Gerry Adams was furnished with a firm and lingering grasp.

After the show of togetherness for public consumption, there followed an equally significant, but unrecorded, private meeting.

After his political contribution, Prince Charles will make a personal journey to Mullaghmore where his godfather and confidant Lord Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA.

That will be on Wednesday. Today, Prince Charles has, in the words of a speech on Ireland he once delivered, become a subject of the two countries' shared history and not its prisoner.

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