Who would have known that a brief handshake would have such political and historical significance? A sign of changing times.
When The Queen and Martin McGuinness shook hands, it was seen as a symbol of progress around the world.
For years, McGuinness played his role in the Provisional IRA. He engaged in paramilitary activity and played a role in bombing campaigns on both British troops and civilians.
To think that one day The Queen and McGuinness would one shake hands cordially is completely unthinkable.
At a charity event in Belfast in June 2012, however, the hand of progress was extended between them both.
PA photographer Paul Faith was the only photographer allowed in to see the historic handshake. He said “I feel so privileged to have witnesses that significant and historic moment”
“I remember that Martin appeared very relaxed and confident and happy to stand beside the Queen”
“The significance of it for me didn’t really sink until the next day when I saw the pictures in the papers”
Every front page was carrying the photograph and it hit me that this was going to be a historic image”
The day after what is one of the world’s most historic handshakes, Martin McGuinness spoke about its “momentous and historical” significance”
He said that the meeting between him and The Queen had the potential to define “a new relationship between Britain and Ireland and between the Irish people themselves”
McGuinness spoke in Westminster and said that the handshake “was in a very pointed, deliberate and symbolic way offering the hand of friendship to unionists through the person of Queen Elizabeth for which many unionists have a deep affinity”
A few years after the handshake, McGuiness paid tribute to The Queen for meeting with him.
“I liked her courage in agreeing to meet with me, I liked the engagements that I’ve had with her. There’s nothing I have seen in my engagements with her that is someone I should dislike – I like her”
Martin McGuiness passed away on the 21st of March 2017 after suffering from a rare heart condition. The Queen has sent her condolences to the widow of Martin McGuinness.