The UK's Queen Elizabeth has paid tribute to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division to make political progress in Northern Ireland possible.In a statement to mark the 100th anniversary of the creation of Northern Ireland on this date in 1921, she said the continued peace is "a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests."

She said the anniversary "reminds us of our complex history, and provides an opportunity to reflect on togetherness and diversity. "

The statement adds: "The political progress in Northern Ireland and the peace process is rightly credited to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division. But above all, the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests.

"It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment. During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions."

Queen Elizabeth also recognises the important contribution made by "our friends and closest neighbours" towards the success of Northern Ireland.

"I look back with fondness on the visit Prince Philip and I paid to Ireland, ten years ago this month. I treasure my many memories, and the spirit of goodwill I saw at first hand," she said.

"Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process. May this be our guiding thread in the coming years.

"I send my warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also issued a statement to mark what he called a "very significant national anniversary."

"People from all parts of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and across the globe, will approach this anniversary in different ways, with differing perspectives," he added.

"While this is a moment of shared reflection, it is also an important opportunity to come together to celebrate Northern Ireland and build towards a better and even brighter future for all its people."

Northern Ireland is 100 years old today, but there are no official celebrations planned.

The British government is spending three million pounds on a series of events to make the centenary, but they will take place throughout the coming year.

It was at a minute past midnight on the third of May 1921 when a border appeared on the island of Ireland.

Six of the 32 counties officially became part of the new legal and constitutional entity of Northern Ireland.

But it was a low-key affair, with no official ceremonies or celebrations to mark the event, and the first Northern Ireland parliament did not sit until the following month.

The 100th anniversary of the event is being marked in a similarly low-key fashion for a number of reasons.

Covid restrictions mean large outdoor gatherings are still banned, and there are huge political sensitivities.

While Unionists say the 100th anniversary is a cause for celebration, nationalists say there's nothing to celebrate.