The Prince of Wales has landed in Ireland for a four-day visit and a historic meeting with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.
Charles agreed to meet after a request by the senior republican in a move which would have been unthinkable until a few years ago and sets the tone for the trip.
The Prince, who is joined in Ireland by the Duchess of Cornwall, touched down on a chartered flight at Shannon Airport in Co Clare before travelling to Galway city for the first engagement in a packed agenda.
Charles is said to be excited by the prospect of his first official visit to the Republic of Ireland in 13 years, with peace and reconciliation set to be major themes.
Mr Adams arrived at the college at about midday and said he presumed he would shake Charles' hand.
He said he hoped the meeting would contribute to reconciliation in Belfast as well for the royals.
“I don’t have any expectations other than this being an engagement which I hope is symbolic and practical, and will assist that entire process,” he said.
“It will by its nature be a relatively short engagement.”
Mr Adams added: “But I don’t buy into not shaking hands.”
Mr Adams is the most senior republican to meet the Prince and it comes after his party colleague Martin McGuinness shook hands with Charles at a state banquet in Windsor Castle last year and met the Queen of England in 2012.
The meeting comes on the eve of the Prince’s emotional walkabout in the seaside village of Mullaghmore, Co Sligo where his great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA.
The 79-year-old cousin of Queen Elizabeth II was targeted by the IRA as he set off with family and a local teenager to gather lobster pots and fish for shrimp less than 600m from the harbour of the fishing village.
Lord Mountbatten was murdered along with Lady Doreen Brabourne, the 83-year-old mother-in-law of the earl’s daughter, his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull and 14-year-old Paul Maxwell, from Killynure, Enniskillen.
Charles will be in Mullaghmore on Wednesday following a service of peace and reconciliation at St Columba’s Church, in nearby Drumcliffe.
But the handshake with Mr Adams also chimes with the themes at the prayer gathering and will be seen as the next phase in ever-deepening relations, friendships and bonds between Ireland and the UK.
It was only in 2011 when Sinn Féin took a decision not to allow Mr McGuinness to attend the state banquet in Dublin Castle during the Queen’s visit to the Republic.
It will be the royal couple’s first official engagement in Ireland but not the first time in the country for either of them as both have visited many times in a personal capacity, including the Prince’s trips to the Duke of Devonshire’s Lismore Castle in Co Waterford.
Charles was last in the Republic of Ireland on formal business in 2002 and had previously been in the country in 1995.