News Ireland daily BLOG update

Sunday 17th November 2013

Michael D Higgins first Irish President to pay the UK & Queen a state visit


President Michael D Higgins is to become the first Irish head of state to make an official state visit to the UK.

The president and his wife Sabina have accepted an invitation from the Queen to stay at Windsor Castle for a three-day visit in April.

In May 2011 the Queen became the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland.

Aras an Uachtarain – the president’s official Dublin residence – confirmed Mr Higgins had accepted the invitation.

During the Queen’s visit to Ireland, she paid paid her respects to republican dead at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance and visited Croke Park – site of the 1920 Bloody Sunday massacre.

She also made a speech on Anglo-Irish history at Dublin Castle.

Mr Higgins, a former Labour government minister, poet and academic, has met members of the Royal Family before.

Both he and his wife met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in June 2012 at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, and he has also met Princess Anne and the Duke of Kent.

Though he has visited the UK several times since becoming president, these were not official state visits.

“This is a further demonstration of the warm and positive relationship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom,” he said.

It is expected that the Queen will host a state banquet for the president, during which both heads of state will make speeches.

Although the official programme is yet to be finalised it is expected that Mr and Mrs Higgins will stay at Windsor Castle from 8 April to 10 April.

The president is expected to include official visits to the prime minister at Downing Street as well as to the leader of the Opposition.

In line with other state visits it is likely the Lord Mayor of the City of London will host a banquet for the President and it is also expected that the Queen will host a State banquet.

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