Thursday, 07 April 2011 00:00
Queen Elizabeth II is to make a state visit to the Republic of Ireland in May, the first by a British monarch since independence.
The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will visit the Irish Republic from May 17 to 20.
The British head of state is expected to visit several historically significant sites including Croke Park and Dublin's Garden of Remembrance, which honour all those who fought for Irish freedom.
The last British monarch to visit Ireland was George V in 1911, when Ireland was still part of the UK.
The war of independence and subsequent partition of the island strained relations between Ireland and the UK for much of the 20th Century.
However, the success of the Northern Ireland Peace Process has improved relations and made possible the visit of the head of state of the neighbouring country.
The Royal visit was first mooted in June 2010 at a meeting between former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cowen had said a State visit by the Queen would be part of the normal exchange visits with the heads of states of neighbouring countries.
Following a formal invitation from the President of Ireland Mary McAleese, Buckingham Palace waited until the Irish general election was over to confirm the Royal visit.