Queen sends private message of condolence to widow of Martin McGuinness as sources tell of strong rapport over faith

HRH The Queen meets the then deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at private audience in Hillsborough Castle on 23 June 2014.Flickr

The Queen is to send a private letter of condolence to the widow of Martin McGuinness, it was revealed today.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph that a message will be conveyed to McGuinness's wife, Bernadette.

McGuinness had met the Queen on a number of occasions. The pair shook hands in 2012 at a charity event in Belfast at the Lyric theatre.

Asked what he thought of the meeting, Mr McGuinness quipped: 'I'm still a republican.'

After a meeting in Hillsborough Castle last June, McGuinness greeted the Queen by asking if she was well, and the Queen replied: 'Well, I'm still alive.'

But a well placed source who knows both the Queen and McGuinness told Christian Today that they had a real connection over their shared faith.

'I believe in Jesus Christ,' McGuinness once said. 'There are many others throughout the world who don't believe in Jesus Christ, but this is what I believe. I respect what they believe, and all I ask is that they respect what I believe.'

In a highly significant and historic statement, the Queen in 2011 referred to the IRA killing of her cousin, the Earl of Mountbatten before expressing regret over certain events on the British side.

Speaking at Dublin Castle, she said of the Troubles: 'These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.'