State Visit to the United Kingdom
Published: Fri 11th Apr, 2014 | 10:07
State Visit to the United Kingdom – Programme
President Michael D. Higgins will make a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 8-11 April 2014. This will be the first State Visit by an Irish Head of State to Britain. The President and Sabina Higgins, who will be accompanied by the Tánaiste, Mr Eamon Gilmore TD and an official delegation, will depart Dublin on the afternoon of Monday the 7th April and return on the evening of Friday 11th April from Coventry. During the course of the State visit, the President and Sabina will be guests of Her Majesty at Windsor Castle.
Monday 7 April
The President and Sabina Higgins will depart from Áras an Uachtaráin in the late afternoon. Military honours will be rendered at the Áras prior to departure. On their arrival at Heathrow, the President and Mrs Higgins will be met by the Ambassador of Ireland, Mr Dan Mulhall and the Viscount Hood, Lord-in-Waiting to Her Majesty The Queen.
Tuesday 8th April
On Tuesday morning, the President and Sabina Higgins will be met by HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at the Irish Embassy in London, after which they will depart together for Windsor.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will formally greet the President and Sabina at the Royal Dais, Datchet Road, Windsor after which they will travel together by horse-drawn carriage for a ceremonial welcome at Windsor Castle. In the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle, the President, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, will inspect the Guard of Honour. As part of the formal welcome, the Guard of Honour will give the Royal Salute, and the band will play the Irish and British National Anthems.
After a private lunch hosted by The Queen at Windsor Castle, Her Majesty will invite the President and Sabina to view Irish related items from the Royal Collection. Afterwards they will depart for London and visit Westminster Abbey, where they will be received by The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, the Dean of Westminster. Prior to commencing a tour of the Abbey, the President will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
Later in the afternoon, the President will visit the Palace of Westminster, where he will be met by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr John Bercow, MP and the Lord Speaker, the Baroness D’Souza. The President will then deliver an address to both Houses and afterwards will attend a reception with members of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups.
In the evening, the President will receive a courtesy call from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Ed Miliband MP at Windsor Castle.
Later in the evening, the President and Sabina are guests of honour 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 9th April
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 Colours of the disbanded Irish Regiments. These colours 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 The Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, UK 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 meeting at a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Cameron.
While the President is visiting the Royal Society and Downing Street, Sabina Higgins will undertake a separate programme which comprises a visit to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and she will attend a lunch at the Irish Embassy focusing on the theme of Irish fashion and design.
In the afternoon, the President and Sabina will attend a Youth Workshop at City Hall, titled “Taking Charge of Change Together”. It will involve young people from Ireland and the UK who participate in Gaisce – The President’s Award/The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards; the President’s ‘Being Young and Irish’ initiative; the British Youth Council; and Irish community groups in Britain. The President will be greeted on arrival at City Hall by the Mayor of London, Mr Boris Johnson. After being briefed by representatives of the young people on the content of their Workshop, the President will make an address.
Later in the evening the President will receive a courtesy call by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Nick Clegg, MP, at Buckingham Palace.
Afterwards the President and Sabina will attend a Banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Fiona Woolf, and the City of London Corporation at the Guildhall. The Queen will be represented at the Banquet by the HRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. After dinner, the President will address the 700 invited guests.
Thursday 10th April
On Thursday morning, the President and Sabina depart Windsor Castle for a visit to the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) Farms, Oxford. They will be met by a party which includes Mr Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, 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 Sabina will then visit Park House Stables, Kingsclere where they will be received by Mr Andrew and Mrs Anna-Lisa Balding. Reflecting the strong links between Ireland and Britain in the equine world, 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. The HRH Prince and Princess Michael of Kent will represent the Queen at this celebration of music, song, dance and poetry.
Friday 11th April
On Friday morning the President and Sabina will bid farewell to The Queen and HRH 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. They will also meet with Denominational Representatives in the Chapel of Unity. They will then move to the nearby St Mary’s Guildhall, where they will be greeted by Councillor Gary Crookes, The Lord Mayor of Coventry and other local representatives. This final event of the State Visit will be a reception for members of the Irish community at the Guildhall, and will also include an address by the President.
Later that afternoon, after a final farewell by the Lord Chamberlain on behalf of The Queen, the President and Sabina depart from Coventry for Dublin. On return to Baldonnel, military honours will be rendered.