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Downing Street: 'The Queen should meet representatives from across the community'

Asked how David Cameron viewed the handshake, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said:

Clearly, there was a visit by Her Majesty to the Republic of Ireland last year. That has taken relations between the two countries to a new level.

We think it is right that the Queen should meet representatives from all parts of the community.

Queen shakes hands with McGuinness

The Queen has shaken the hand of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness in an historic encounter that would have seemed unthinkable just a decade ago.

They met behind closed doors in a room within Belfast's Lyric Theatre during an event celebrating the arts in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

In a quiet space used by the Lyric for creative learning, the two were joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson, Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

Called the McGrath Suite, named in honour of benefactor Harvey McGrath, the former chairman of the British insurer Prudential, and his wife Allison, the room is usually filled with toddlers enjoying story telling sessions or drama students taking part in workshops.

Today it was sparsely furnished with leather seating - four chairs and a sofa - set around a round wooden table decorated with flowers, with refreshments of tea, coffee and still and sparkling water on a side table.

The floor-to-ceiling windows, which look out on to landscaped gardens and the River Lagan, were covered with curtains.

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Historic handshake will be recorded

The Queen's historic meeting with Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness will be recorded for posterity, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

The initial handshake between the Queen and the former IRA commander will remain private but farewells between the two individuals - when another handshake is expected - will be filmed and photographed.

Martin McGuinness Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Peter Sheridan, chief executive of the peace charity Co-operation Ireland which will host the meeting at Belfast's Lyric Theatre, said the event will be hugely significant.

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