The President of Ireland will begin his historic state visit to the United Kingdom on April 8, according to the official plans for the historic visit unveiled yesterday.
Michael D Higgins will be the first Irish President to make a state visit to the United Kingdom.
The President will be accompanied by the tánaiste (Deputy PM), Eamon Gilmore and an official delegation. During the course of the state visit, the President and his wife Sabina will be guests of Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
Highlights of the visit will include an address by President Higgins and the queen to a joint sitting of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and a state banquet hosted by the queen at Windsor Castle.
Here is how the program for the historic visit is looking.
Monday, April 7
President Higgins and Mrs Higgins will be met at Heathrow Airport by the Ireland's Ambassador, Dan Mulhall, and Viscount Hood, Lord-in-Waiting to the queen.
Tuesday, April 8
President Higgins will be met by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Irish Embassy in London, after which they will depart together for Windsor.
Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, will formally greet the president and his wife at the Royal Dais, Datchet Road, Windsor after which they will travel together by horse-drawn carriage for a ceremonial welcome at Windsor Castle.
Later in the evening, the president and Mrs Higgins will be guests of honor at a state banquet hosted by the queen at Windsor Castle. The queen and the president will both make a short address at this banquet.
Wednesday, April 9
On Wednesday morning, the president and Sabina will be escorted by HRH, Prince Andrew, The Duke of York to the Grand Stairs in Windsor Castle to view the colors of the disbanded Irish Regiments. These regimental flags have been at the castle since 1922.
The President and Sabina will then visit University College London Hospital on Euston Road where they will be greeted by Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the UK's Department of Health. The president and Sabina will meet patients and some Irish staff members, past and present, who have made such an important contribution to the National Health Service.
Later in the morning, the president will visit the Royal Society where he will view an exhibition of items related to Ireland and make an address on the importance of scientific and technological cooperation between Ireland and Britain.
The president will then travel to 10 Downing Street for a lunch meeting hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Thursday, April 10
On Thursday morning, the President and Sabina will depart Windsor Castle for a visit to the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) Farms, Oxford. They will be met by a party that will include Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive of Bord Bia (Irish Food Board). They will be briefed on the farm’s sustainability initiatives and the Bord Bia ‘Origin Green Programme’ which will also be profiled at this event.
The president and his wife will then visit Park House Stables, Kingsclere where they will be received by Andrew and Anna-Lisa Balding. They will meet with trainers, jockeys and other staff at the stables and will also visit the tack room, the yard and the training areas.
In the early evening, the president and Sabina will attend a Northern Ireland-themed reception hosted by the queen at Windsor Castle.
Later on Thursday evening, the president and Sabina will attend ‘Ceiliúradh’ at the Royal Albert Hall. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent will represent the Queen at this celebration of music, song, dance and poetry.
Friday, April 11
On Friday morning the president and Sabina will bid farewell to the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle. Later that morning they will visit the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon. Following a tour of the building, they will watch a short performance. The President will make a brief address and meet the actors and other members of the creative team. Afterwards, they will visit Shakespeare’s birthplace.
In the afternoon, the President and Sabina will visit Coventry Cathedral and take a tour of the ruins of the old Cathedral, which was destroyed in World War II.