Duke and Duchess of Cambridge begin first official Irish visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge begin an historic tour of Ireland – their first official visit to the Emerald Isle.

William and Kate will celebrate the UK’s ties with one of its closest EU neighbours, learning about its culture and initiatives to protect the environment.

The Cambridges’ trip, which unusually was announced in advance, is likely to be seen as a diplomacy visit in the wake of Brexit.

During the first day of their tour the royal couple will also lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance.

The quiet open space is dedicated to those who rose up against British rule in 1916 and gave their lives for Irish independence.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is greeted by Art O'Leary, Secretary General to the President as they arrive at Aras an Uachtarain. Credit: PA

The royal couple flew to Dublin Airport on a commercial Aer Lingus flight with dozens of residents returning home, business travellers and tourists.

The Cambridges walked down the aircraft's steps and were greeted by a small group of dignitaries led by Britain's ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett.

William and Kate are expected to sample a pint of Guinness later when they meet leading figures from Irish life.

At the Gravity Bar in the Guinness Storehouse - a major visitor attraction in the Irish capital telling the story of the famous drink - the couple are due to meet a range of people from the creative arts, sport, business and charity sectors.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are “looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the Irish people”. Credit: PA

During the three-day trip the couple will meet Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins, political leaders and spend time in Dublin, and the counties of Meath, Kildare and Galway.

The visit will highlight the strong links between the UK and Ireland, and the couple’s programme will take in community initiatives and spectacular scenery, said the palace in a statement.

The statement added: "Following Her Majesty the Queen’s historic visit in 2011, the visit will also focus on the relationship between the two countries, and build on the theme of remembrance and reconciliation."

The Duke and Duchess during a recent visit to South Wales. Credit: PA

It also said: "The UK’s links with Ireland are extensive, and the duke and duchess are looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the Irish people."

The Queen’s historic visit to the Irish Republic was made amid unprecedented security, as she became the first British monarch to travel there in 100 years and the first since the nation gained independence from Britain.

She bowed her head in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance to pay tribute to the rebels who rose up against British rule in 1916, spoke Irish in an address to a state banquet and visited Croke Park Stadium, where British forces shot dead 14 spectators at a Gaelic football match in 1920.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have made five visits to Ireland over the past five years, a sign of the closer Anglo-Irish relations ushered in by the Queen’s tour.

The statement added: “During the three-day tour, the duke and duchess will learn about local organisations working to support and empower young people and projects which provide opportunities to help them develop important life skills.

“Their Royal Highnesses will also hear more about Ireland’s conservation initiatives and efforts to protect its environment, with a particular focus on sustainable farming and marine conservation.

“2020 will see Galway host the European Capital of Culture on behalf of Ireland, a showcase of events highlighting the richness and diversity of Irish culture, art and sport.

“During their time in Galway, the duke and duchess will have the opportunity to experience a taste of modern and traditional Irish culture for themselves.”