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The President is off to the UK later today and here's what he'll be getting up to

Michael D Higgins begins a historic State visit tomorrow but departs for the UK later today.

Michael D Higgins
Michael D Higgins
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/Press Association Images

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins will depart Ireland later today bound for the UK where he is to officially begin a historic, four-day State visit tomorrow.

Higgins, his wife Sabina and officials will depart from Baldonnel late this afternoon and arrive at Heathrow Airport this evening before the programme of events, which includes a meeting with Queen Elizabeth and a State banquet, gets under way tomorrow.

Higgins is the first Irish head of state to make a State visit to Britain and it follows the Queen’s widely hailed visit to Ireland in May 2011 when she was hosted by Higgins’s predecessor Mary McAleese.

Tomorrow morning, the President and his wife Sabina will be met by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at the Irish Embassy, after which they will depart together for Windsor.

There, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will formally greet the President and Sabina at the Royal Dais on Datchet Road, 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 lunch, the President will view Irish-related items in the Royal Collection. The President will then go to Westminster Abbey before laying a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier.

Banquet

He will then go to the House of Commons and meet both the speaker of the House and the House of Lords, before delivering an address to both houses, before getting back to Windsor for a State banquet.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Prime Minister David Cameron will be in attendance as well as other notable dignitaries including Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.

Wednesday will see the President and his wife visit University College Hospital in London before lunch with David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.

Higgins is also due to meet the leader of the British Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and the Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, during his visit.

Wednesday evening will see him attend a banquet at the Guildhall hosted by the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf. There, he will address 700 guests.

On Thursday, the President and Sabina depart Windsor Castle for a visit to the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) Farms, Oxford.

The President and Sabina will then visit Park House Stables, Kingsclere, where they will meet horse trainers, jockeys and staff.

That evening will see a Northern Ireland-themed event at Windsor Castle, before attending Ceiliúradh at the Royal Albert Hall with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Tickets for the event have already sold out.

On Friday, the President and his wife will depart Windsor and visit the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, before visiting Coventry Cathedral.

After that it will be a reception at the Coventry Guildhall for Irish people, before flying back to Dublin.

- additional reporting from Paul Hosford

Read: Even Michael D Higgins has to queue for the ATM

VIDEO: Michael D Higgins discusses the President’s Cup and his love for the League of Ireland

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Hugh O'Connell

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