Britain's Queen Elizabeth will visit Ireland in May for three days, the Irish Times has reported. It will be a state visit, the first visit to Ireland in exactly a century by a British monarch.

King George V visited in 1911 when Ireland was still part of the British empire.

Leader of the opposition Enda Kenny, likely to be the next Prime Minister, has also been briefed on the visit, according to the report. It would mark his first major international engagement.

A spokesman for the Irish government stated yesterday that "talks were ongoing" on the visit but refused to be drawn on the date.

The 84-year old queen is expected to make a "major speech" on Anglo Irish relations at Dublin Castle. The government invited Queen Elizabeth in June of last year.

The visit will draw protests, especially from Sinn Fein who point out the Queen's role as titular head of the British armed forces.

The timing of the visit was thrown into question by the wedding of her grandson, Prince William, to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29th. However, the visit has not been written in for May.

She is also expected to be greeted by President Mary McAleese who is in her last year in office and who has pushed strongly for the visit. It would mark a spectacular end to her 14 year term.

Yesterday, Prince Charles visited Belfast, where he was met by politicians from both sides but no Sinn Fein representative.