The historic handshake has taken place – Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and the Queen of England have shaken hands twice in Belfast.

The gesture took place at the Lyric Theatre in South Belfast on Wednesday morning. Martin McGuinness spoke to her in Gaelic and wished her goodbye and Godspeed after her visit to Northern Ireland.  (Slan agus Beannacht)

Witnessed by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson, the two briefly shook hands and McGuinness also shook hands with Prince Philip.

They shook hands at a reception for Co-Operation Ireland at the theatre. Both the Queen and President Higgins are patrons of Co-operation Ireland.

The meeting was filmed and images were released for broadcast and print around the world.
Reports say the initial handshake between McGuinness and the Queen was conducted in private.

But their farewell handshake was recorded on camera and this image will be released.
McGuinness has publicly stated that he has no issue with the photographs being released.

“I do not seek secrecy in anything I do,” he stated.

A Sinn Fein spokesman confirmed that any decision on media access and photographs was down to Buckingham Palace officials.

McGuinness is also due to speak at Westminster in London on Thursday on what Sinn Féin has billed as a ‘keynote address on future British-Irish relations’.

The Belfast reception, part of the Queen’s Jubilee visit to the North, was attended by 50 guests.

Many were from the arts including the poet Michael Longley, pianist Barry Douglas, actors Adrian Dunbar and Conleth Hill, painter Colin Davidson and singer Brian Kennedy.

“This event aims to highlight how the arts have contributed to reconciliation and peace-building on the island of Ireland,” said former senior police officer Peter Sheridan, chief executive of Co-operation Ireland.

Here's the BBC report on the historic moment: