Queen health: Her Majesty joked 'she's still alive' after Martin McGuinness ...

THE QUEEN once joked that she was "still alive" after being asked a question by former deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, before admitting she had been busy because she had just "had two birthdays".

PUBLISHED: 11:27, Sat, Nov 28, 2020 | UPDATED: 11:27, Sat, Nov 28, 2020

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Eight years ago, Her Majesty and Mr McGuinness, a former IRA commander, shared a historic handshake, which was seen as part of "the national reconciliation process". Her visit came a year after she toured the Republic of Ireland, and the symbolic gesture between the Queen and Mr McGuinness was described by then-Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman as "taking relations between the two countries to a new level". They added: "We think it is right that the Queen should meet representatives from all parts of the community."

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But in 2016, when the Queen returned to Northern Ireland, she was greeted once again by Mr McGuinness - a year before he stood down as deputy First Minister.

Upon his arrival, the pair shared another handshake, before Mr McGuinness asked the Queen: "Are you well?"

The Queen replied: "Thank you, yes, well I'm still alive!

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"We've been quite busy - there's a lot going on. I've had two birthdays, so that's kept me quite busy!"

Queen health: Her Majesty joked 'she's still alive' after Martin McGuinness questionQueen health: Her Majesty joked 'she's still alive' after Martin McGuinness question (Image: GETTY)

Queen news: Mr McGuinness and Her MajestyQueen news: Mr McGuinness and Her Majesty (Image: YOUTUBE)

Their visit was the third high-profile Royal Family trip to Northern Ireland in weeks, as it followed tours by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince William and Kate Middleton.

But it was the historic visit in 2012 which led to many celebrating the meeting between the Queen and Mr McGuinness.

Then-Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said: "It brings our journey of relationship building within this island and between these islands onto a new plane.

"I think the vast majority of unionists will be pleased this happened because they know it was essentially a real gesture towards their sense of identity and their sense of allegiance.

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