Details of President Higgins' British State visit announced

Details of President Higgins' British State visit announced

DETAILS of President Michael D Higgins’ four-day visit to Britain have this morning been announced by Buckingham Palace and Áras an Uachtaráin.

The April 8-11 visit will be the first such visit by an Irish Head of State to Britain with the President and his wife, Sabina, guests of Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.

Among the planned engagements are a State banquet at Windsor Castle, meetings with the Prime Minister, a trip to Coventry and a series of events acknowledging the role of Irish people in British society, including their contribution to the NHS.

The first day of the visit, Tuesday 8 April, will begin with the President and his wife travelling by horse-drawn carriage with the Queen and her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, to Windsor Castle.

That night the Queen and the President will both make speeches during a State banquet.

President Higgins will also address both Houses at the Palace of Westminster that day.

The second day of the visit will include lunch at Downing Street with British Prime Minister David Cameron, while the President will also be guest of honour at a banquet in London's Guildhall.

The President will also visit the University College London Hospital to mark the contribution of Irish workers to the NHS.

On day three, President Higgins will attend a Northern Ireland themed reception, hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.

That night the President will attend a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, a celebration of music, song, dance and poetry.

The Ceiliúradh event is already sold out. The President and his wife will be joined by Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. The Queen is not expected to attend.

On Friday 11 April, after visiting the Shakespeare Company headquarters at Stratford-upon-Avon, the President will address a reception for representatives of the Irish Community at Coventry's Guildhall.

He will be accompanied throughout by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore.

Last night, as a precursor to the visit, Queen Elizabeth hosted a function for more than 300 people at Buckingham Palace, to celebrate the contribution made by Irish citizens in Britain.

The State visit follows Queen Elizabeth’s first State visit to Ireland in 2011.

It was designed to heal wounds as well as celebrate shared values in the relationship between neighbouring islands.