The photographer remembers the historic handshake between Queen and Martin McGuinness

The photographer remembers the historic handshake between Queen and Martin McGuinness

The Queen shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness watched by Prime Minister Peter Robinson at the Lyric Theater in Belfast (Paul Faith / PA) (PA Archive)

The Queen shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness watched by Prime Minister Peter Robinson at the Lyric Theater in Belfast (Paul Faith / PA) (PA Archive)

The only photographer to capture the historic moment the Queen greeted, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness remembered it as the longest handshake he has ever taken.

Paul Faith, from County Antrim, was asked to take the picture of the monarch’s meeting with the former IRA commander inside the Lyric Theater in Belfast in 2012.

The handshake between the Queen and Mr McGuinness, who was Stormont’s Deputy Prime Minister at the time, was a highly symbolic gesture and is considered a pivotal moment in the path of the Northern Ireland peace process from conflict to reconciliation.

Northern Irish photographer Paul Faith.  Image Mark Marlow / PA

Northern Irish photographer Paul Faith. Image Mark Marlow / PA

The PA news agency was asked to photograph the meeting and Mr Faith, who was the leading PA photographer in Northern Ireland at the time, was given the high-profile assignment.

The event at the Lyric Theater was organized by the peacebuilding organization Cooperation Ireland and focused on an exhibition of portraits of Troubles victims painted by Northern Irish artist Colin Davidson.

The Queen and President of Ireland Michael D Higgins were invited, as were then DUP Prime Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy Prime Minister McGuinness.

The first meeting between the Queen and Mr McGuinness, who died in 2017, took place in private inside the theater before a public handshake soon after.

The Queen shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness at the Lyric Theater in Belfast (Paul Faith / PA) (PA Archive)

The Queen shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness at the Lyric Theater in Belfast (Paul Faith / PA) (PA Archive)

And Mr. Faith was there to catch him.

“It’s the longest handshake I think I’ve actually shot,” he said.

“I actually timed it and I think it was about four seconds, and four seconds for a handshake is pretty long.

“So I took a lot of frames and it was perfect, really, really good.

“The queen met a couple of other people and just left.

“And then we turned around and went up the stairs and Martin McGuinness said ‘well, that’s it.'”

The Queen turns a corner of the Lyric Theater moments before shaking hands with Deputy Prime Minister McGuinness (Paul Faith / PA) (PA Archive)

The Queen turns a corner of the Lyric Theater moments before shaking hands with Deputy Prime Minister McGuinness (Paul Faith / PA) (PA Archive)

Mr. Faith from Glenarm said his bosses were more stressed about the job than he was.

“The night before a publisher called me and he was panicking and I wasn’t. He said “I hope you’re nervous, it’s healthy if you’re nervous.”

“He said ‘you have to be on your game for this’ and I said ‘look, it’s a handshake, I’ve done hundreds and thousands of handshakes in my career, they’re going to come together and it’s going to be fine.’

“More people were nervous about me.”

He added: “Working with the queen over the years I have photographed her so many times and have been close to her and have always found her very courteous.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.