Thursday 25 December 2014

President Higgins on his visit to Britain: 'This is the opening of the door rather than the closing of anything'

Published 07/04/2014 | 08:36

President Michael D Higgins

President Michael D Higgins has said Britain's Queen Elizabeth and himself represents a new beginning in relations between the two countries.

"This is the opening of the door rather than the closing of anything," he told RTE's Morning Ireland today.

He said: "The invitation to return Her Majesty's visit (to Ireland, two years ago) came very quickly."

The visit has been approached with "great generosity and extension and enthusiasm from my host," he said.

The President is the first president to make an official state visit to Britain, and he will stay at Windsor Castle.

The Queen will host a state banquet for the President, where both heads of state will make speeches.

He commended the Queen's speech on her visit to Dublin where she said "not only would things have been done differently but maybe not at all."

"One wouldn't want to underest the power of words... the words chosen were extremely important.

President Higgins, who lived and studied in Britain, said the most emotional side of the visit will come when he meets the Irish community living in London.

"It's important that we never forget any of them."

The most emotional aspect "without a doubt is what it will mean for the Irish community", he said.

When the President last met with Queen Elizabeth, he said: "We talked about horses. We'll be talking about matters both cultural and equine."

He said the hosts "at the other side" have extended the visit

He lived and studied in Britain and was once part of the expat community.

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