President to make first ever State visit to Britain

Higgins and his wife Sabina set to stay at Windsor Castle during trip to UK in April

President  Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina will attend state banquet with   Taoiseach Enda Kenny and prime minister David Cameron

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina will attend state banquet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and prime minister David Cameron


President Michael D Higgins will make the first State visit by an Irish head of State to Britain next year, less than three years after Queen Elizabeth’s historic visit to Ireland, it was announced last night.

The visit was announced by Buckingham Palace in a brief statement, though full details about the engagements to be carried out during the three-day visit between April 8th and 10th will not be released for some months.

Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, several times, visited Britain during their terms in office and met the queen, but none of their trips were accorded the status of a state visit – the highest ranking in the diplomatic league.

Mark Hennessy on the State visit

Describing the President’s visit “as a very significant event for our two countries”, a spokesman for the British government said relations between the two countries “have never been stronger, or more settled”.

‘Bilateral co-operation’
He went on: “The range and depth of the bilateral co-operation between our two administrations is not matched in either Britain’s or Ireland’s relations with any other country.” The three-day visit follows on the April 2011 visit by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to Ireland – widely regarded as a diplomatic triumph.

The President and his wife Sabina will stay at Windsor Castle during their visit – which is a mark of the importance accorded to the visit by the queen. A state banquet to be be attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and prime minister David Cameron will be one of the highlights.

However, Mr Higgins is also expected to make a major speech on relations between the two countries, possibly at a dinner hosted by the lord mayor of London. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was a wonderful opportunity to further deepen the “warm and positive” relationship that now exists between the two countries.

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