Irish president begins historic visit to the UK
Irish President, Michael D. Higgings arrived in London for an historic four-day State visit to the United Kingdom, invited by Queen Elizabeth, in the first ever official visit from an Irish President.
Higgings, who traveled with his wife, Sabina, and Irish Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, was received with honors at noon today by the Queen and his husband, the duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor Castle. Earlier, they met Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornualles at the Irish Embassy.
This official welcome is a new chapter in the rapprochement of Anglo-Irish relations that started three years, when Elizabeth became the first British monarch to visit Ireland. Higging’s visit comes 16 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 in Northern Ireland, that put an end to a 30 years conflict –known as The Troubles- for the constitucional status of Northern Ireland, that killed over 3500 people.
“We are at a very interesting point in history, when we have, following Her Majesty's visit to Ireland, such good relations between our people”, Higgings said before leaving for London yesterday.
This afternoon, Higgings will address members of both Houses of Parliament and, as tradition dictates for this sort of visits, he will later pay tribute to Britain's war dead at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. Tonight, the president and his wife will be guests of honor at a State banquet organizad by the Queen, along with Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander, paramilitary organization that fought the British forces for Irish independence.
Tomorrow, Higgings will meet with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the official residence at 10 Downing Street.