Princess Anne will become the first royal to visit Ireland’s famous Croke Park stadium.

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The princess will be in the VIP section to watch Ireland play Scotland in the Six Nations rugby tournament at the 80,000-capacity Dublin venue on Saturday week (23.02.08).

The royal, who is the patron of the Scottish Rugby Union, is a keen follower of the international side and attends as many games as she can. Croke Park is steeped in Irish history as it was the scene of a massacre by the British Army during the Irish War of Independence in 1920.

The British paramilitary Auxiliary Division, known as the Black and Tans, opened fire on the crowd during an Irish gaelic football match killing 14 people.

The tragic incident on November 21, a day which became known as Bloody Sunday, was a reprisal for the assassination of 14 British intelligence officers at the hands of Irish revolutionaries.

The princess’ visit to the important symbol of Irish nationalism will be seen as a major step in cementing relations between the two countries. The move will also be seen as a preparation for Queen Elizabeth to visit the Republic of Ireland for the first time.

The last visit to Ireland by a reigning British monarch was by King George V in 1911.