Royal eyes smiling for Irish on historic day

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Irish President Michael D Higgins has met the Queen on the first ever state visit to the UK by the country’s head of state.

Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina met the monarch at Windsor Castle three years after the Queen’s historic visit to Dublin heralded the start of a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries.

And the presence of Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, who will attend a banquet hosted by the Queen would have been unthinkable only a decade ago.

The streets of Windsor were decked out in Union flags and Irish Tricolours for the visit.

After travelling from London with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the president and his wife were met by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

After the guests were honoured with two separate gun salutes, the Queen and president entered the castle in the Australian State Coach, before Mr Higgins and Philip inspected troops of the Queen’s Company, Grenadier Guards.

Major Andrew Seddon, captain of the Queen’s Company, invited Mr Higgins to inspect the guard of honour.

The Irish Guards were represented by their regimental band and Mr Higgins presented a new ceremonial red coat to its mascot, an Irish wolfhound.