Queen Elizabeth rolls out the red carpet for state visit
IT WAS, as they say in west London, a grand soft day. At just after 5pm, the government jet appeared under the sodden grey skies overhanging Heathrow, arriving serendipitously during a respite from the rain.
In the VIP terminal, everything was set for the arrival of President Higgins. On the steps awaiting him was the official welcome party – among them Ireland's ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall and his wife Greta, Viscount Hood, Lord-in-Waiting was there on behalf of the queen, and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the London Metropolitan police.
The red carpet from the plane was lined with uniformed members of the Royal Air Force, and outside the terminal, the President's car awaited – an impressive gleaming brown Bentley with a royal crest on the doors and a Tricolour flying on the roof.