Queen Elizabeth to visit Northern Ireland at end of month

Trip opens up possibility that British monarch will again meet Martin McGuinness

Queen Elizabeth II delivers a speech during the state opening of parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London, England, today. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II delivers a speech during the state opening of parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London, England, today. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Getty Images

Wed, Jun 4, 2014, 18:17

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are to visit Northern Ireland later this month, Buckingham Palace announced this afternoon.

They will be in the North for a series of engagements from June 23rd to 25th, opening up the possibility of another meeting between Queen Elizabeth and Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Details of the engagements are yet to emerge, although it would be surprising if during the course of the visit she did not meet both Mr McGuinness and Peter Robinson in their roles as First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Two years ago this month, Mr McGuinness had his first face-to-face encounter with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in Belfast, while in April the Sinn Féin politician and former IRA leader joined in toasting the British monarch at a banquet in Windsor Castle during President Michael D Higgins’s state visit to Britain.

Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers said she was “absolutely delighted” the visit was taking place.

She said today: “This will be a wonderful opportunity to show her majesty and his royal highness some of the best that Northern Ireland has to offer and demonstrate the work being done to bring different parts of the community together and build a more prosperous future.”