British Royals Prince William and Kate Middleton hoping to forge 'lasting friendship' with Ireland
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British Royals Prince William and Kate Middleton hoping to forge 'lasting friendship' with Ireland

THE DUKE and Duchess of Cambridge have spoken of their eagerness to build “a lasting friendship with the Irish people" during their first official visit to Ireland.

Prince William and Kate Middleton will spend time in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Galway as part of a three-day visit from March 3 to 5.

During their visit they will meet President Michael D Higgin and other political leaders and take in Ireland’s natural scenery as part of a busy schedule of cultural and community events.

A statement from Kensington Palace said: "Following Her Majesty the Queen's historic visit in 2011, the visit will also focus on the relationship between the two countries, and build on the theme of remembrance and reconciliation."

"The UK's links with Ireland are extensive, and the duke and duchess are looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the Irish people."

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The statement added: "During the three-day tour, the duke and duchess will learn about local organisations working to support and empower young people and projects which provide opportunities to help them develop important life skills.

"Their Royal Highnesses will also hear more about Ireland's conservation initiatives and efforts to protect its environment, with a particular focus on sustainable farming and marine conservation.

"2020 will see Galway host the European Capital of Culture on behalf of Ireland, a showcase of events highlighting the richness and diversity of Irish culture, art and sport.

"During their time in Galway, the duke and duchess will have the opportunity to experience a taste of modern and traditional Irish culture for themselves."

The visit of the Duke and Duchess is being viewed by many as a diplomatic one, coming just weeks after the UK’s departure from the European Union was confirmed.

It comes nearly nine years on from the Queen’s historic visit to the Emerald Isle.

Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to travel to Ireland in 100 years and the first
since independence when she visited in May 2011.

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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, meanwhile, have paid five visits in the past five years alone.