Queen Elizabeth Hosts Historic Irish State Visit

  April 9, 2014 at 5:27 am by

The President of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, is currently on a state visit to the United Kingdom, upon the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II. It is the first official visit by an Irish head of state to the United Kingdom.

View the full image at Zimbio

Having arrived into the country on Monday, the President and his wife Sabina were collected by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall from the Irish Embassy for the trip to Windsor Castle, and the official welcoming ceremony.

The Queen hosted a private lunch for her visitors, and showed the pair around an exhibition of Irish-related items from the Royal Collection, of which included a gold box in the shape of a four-leaf clover presented to King George IV in 1821. Gifts were also exchanged, President Higgins was presented photographs of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh and a copy of Dubliners; while Mrs Higgins was given a silver engine-turned box from William & Son.

President and Mrs Higgins then paid a visit to Westminster Abbey, where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before taking a detour past the Mountbatten Memorial – the President bowed his head in a sign of respect. Earl Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle and the Queen’s second cousin once removed, was killed in an IRA bomb attack in 1979. For the President, it was then on to the Palace of Westminster, where he addressed the Houses of Parliament.

View the full image at The Daily Mail

In the evening, the Queen hosted a state banquet in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle. The 160 guests included senior members of the royal family, British Prime Minister David Cameron, milliner Philip Treacy, Dame Helen Mirren and Daniel Day-Lewis. They feasted on halibut and baby leaks, beef from the Windsor estate with assorted vegetables, and a vanilla ice-cream bombe for dessert.

Queen Elizabeth wore the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara with the Cambridge emerald drops option, the Duchess of Cornwall chose the Boucheron Honeycomb tiara and the Princess Royal the Aquamarine Pineflower tiara.

The state visit continues until Friday.

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