Today was the first of a 3-day visit The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were undertaking in the Republic of Ireland. This was the first time Prince William and Kate have made an official visit to Ireland, and is the first official visit members of the Royal Family have undertaken in Europe since Britain left the EU.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived on a commercial Aer Lingus flight to Dublin International Airport early this afternoon, where they were met by representatives from the Irish Government and the British Ambassador, Robin Barnett.
William and Catherine were greeted by President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, at their official residence Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin.
After signing the Distinguished Visitors’ Book, the Duke and Duchess enjoyed afternoon tea of Barry’s tea, shamrock shortbread, oat biscuits and lemon drizzle cake. Also present for tea were Mr O’Leary, the Irish Ambassador to the UK, Adrian O’Neill and Claire Power, the President’s advisors.
Discussions during tea included Brexit and climate change. This visit hopes to highlight the “many strong links between the UK and Ireland”.
The foursome strolled through the residence’s gardens, with the Duchess and Mrs Higgins linking arms as they walked.
The President’s dog, Brod – a Burmese mountain dog – stole the show when both William and Catherine stroked and played with him during the photo call outside the residence.
In the garden of the property, the couple gonged the Peace Bell, which commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement – negotiated at Hillsborough Castle – and viewed The People’s Accord by artist Rachel Joynt, which was unveiled as part of the State 1916 centenary commemorations.
The bell itself is approximately 200 years old; the structure that holds it is crafted from Irish and British oak, to symbolise the coming together of the nations in peace.
Sabina Higgins made a tongue-in-cheek remark the couple; she said, “Delighted to welcome you. You’ve had lots of exciting things happening in your family!”
Last year, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also visited Ireland, and spent time with the Higginses.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge then visited the Garden of Remembrance, which is dedicated to those who gave their lives for Irish independence. The garden was designed by Daithi Hanly and the section where the wreath-laying ceremony took place featured a large sculpture by Oisin Kelly, based on the theme of the Children of Lir.
The Duke laid a wreath, with a note signed by himself and his wife, which read, ‘May we never forget the lessons of history’.
Her Majesty The Queen also visited the garden during her historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011. The couple received a round of applause from members of the public as they entered the garden, showing how the relationship between Britain and Ireland has transformed after a difficult shared history.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did not do a meet-and-green with handshaking today as a precaution from the current Coronavirus outbreak. However, onlookers did note that the couple were just as smiley and chatty as ever, and seemed thrilled at the turnout of locals.
The couple then visited Government Buildings in Dublin to meet with the Taoiseach of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, and his partner, Dr Matt Barrett. Leo Varadkar is the caretaker Taoiseach (equivalent to the Prime Minister) after his party came third in last month’s Irish elections. It is believed the stalemate will continue until at least the end of April.
Mr Varadkar later tweeted, ‘It was a pleasure to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Government Buildings this afternoon as part of their visit to Ireland.’
Discussion included the revival of the Irish language, Gaelic, and what Ireland could learn from Wales about reviving the Irish language. There are areas of the principality, including the couple’s former home of Anglesey, that use Welsh on a daily basis and is still a large part of local culture.
In the evening, a reception was held at the Gravity Bar in the Guinness Storehouse, hosted by the British Ambassador to Ireland. Gravity Bar gives panoramic views of Dublin and is located on the top floor of the famous Guinness factory.
Master Brewer Fergal Murray took the Duke and Duchess through the process of making the famous Guinness stout and taught them how to pour the perfect pint. Both William and Catherine enjoyed a pint of Guinness from Fergal, although William drank his much quicker than his wife!
During the reception, The Duke and Duchess met with a range of people from the creative arts, sport, business and charity sectors in Ireland.
William attempted gaelic at the event, when he addressed guests: “Ladies and gentlemen, a dhaoine uaisle [noble people].”
“Ireland is a country that we have both heard so much about, so we are really excited to be here with you to see it first-hand ourselves.
“In coming to the Guinness Storehouse we are both retracing the footsteps of my grandmother, who was shown how to pour the perfect pint here in 2011. Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you it is not often that I find myself following The Queen to the pub,” the future King joked.
“But I am looking forward to testing for myself the theory that Guinness tastes even better in Ireland than overseas.”
“On a slightly more serious note I just wanted to thank all of you in the room for coming here this evening. Thank you for all that you do to support the very special relationship between our two countries,” the Duke said.
“It has been a pleasure to meet so many of you this evening who demonstrate the breadth of our connections across the arts, sports, uniformed services, education and research, and charity sectors. We value it as we do your friendship and are committed to strengthening it further.
“We are very much looking forward to our next two days in Ireland, where I have no doubt we will continue to be impressed by the creativity, warmth and hospitality the Irish people have to offer.” Toasting the room, he said: “Slainte!”
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 3, 2020