The first ever State visit by an Irish president to Britain will take place next April, when Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, will be guests of Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
It follows the positive response to the royal visit to Ireland in May 2011, when the monarch called for conciliation, the loosening of the knots of history, and for a relationship that is “close as good neighbours should always be”.
The visit next spring, at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth, is expected to build on the political, economic and cultural ties between both countries which were boosted by her time in Ireland. Both President Higgins and Queen Elizabeth are expected to make short speeches at a State banquet hosted in his honour at Windsor Castle, on Apr 8, 2014.
They are expected to stay over two nights at the 11th century palace, which is both a private home to Queen Elizabeth, who spends her weekends and certain holidays there, as well as a location for official ceremonies, royal weddings and burials of monarchs.
As per tradition for foreign heads of state, President Higgins and the First Lady are likely to enter the castle in a horse-drawn carriage, and be greeted by a military guard of honour.
They are expected to attend a banquet hosted by the lord mayor of London on the following night, where they would meet leaders of commerce and industry. President Higgins will also meet prime minister David Cameron at Downing St, as well as the leader of the opposition, during the three-day visit.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved