Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Dublin

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Dublin for the start of a three-day visit to the Republic of Ireland.

William and Kate flew to Dublin Airport on a commercial Aer Lingus flight with the duchess looking stylish in an emerald green Catherine Walker coat and an Alessandra Rich dress.

Waiting to greet them at the bottom of the plane's steps was a small group of dignitaries led by Britain's Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett.

William and Kate were said to be looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the Irish people during their first official visit to the country.

Nearby was a large police presence and a motorcade waiting to take the couple to the city centre.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge then arrived at Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the President of Ireland.

William and Kate were greeted at the front door by Mr Art O'Leary, the Secretary General to the President.

The royal couple were then welcomed into the State Reception Room by the Aide-de-Camp to President Michael D Higgins.

President Higgins invited the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to sign the Distinguished Visitors' Book.

The royal couple also spent some time with Mr Higgins in the President's Study before the bilateral meeting in the Drawing Room.

During the meeting, Mr Higgins was joined by his wife Sabina, Mr O'Leary, the Irish Ambassador to the UK Adrian O'Neill and Claire Power, the president's adviser.

The Duke and Duchess were joined by the British Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett and Simon Case, the Duke of Cambridge's private secretary.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet with the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne. Credit: PA

The President and his wife then accompanied Kate and William to the Peace Bell.

The president explained to the couple that the bell was unveiled in 2008 by then president Mary McAleese to mark the tenth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

The bell, dating back to the 19th century, is supported by two oak trunks which came from Shane's Castle Demesne in Co Antrim and from the Glencairn area in Co Dublin.

The couple then rang the Bell.

President Higgins also pointed out the sculpture The People's Acorn by artist Rachel Joynt, which was unveiled as part of the State 1916 centenary commemorations.

One of the president's dogs, Brod, also accompanied them.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ring the Peace Bell. Credit: PA

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received a round of applause as they entered the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin.

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

When the Queen made her historic visit to Ireland in 2011 - the first by a British monarch since the nation gained independence from Britain - she bowed her head during a visit to the garden as a mark of respect for those who died, a hugely symbolic moment.

The duke and duchess left a message on the wreath laid at the Garden of Remembrance which read: "May we never forget the lessons of history as we continue to build a brighter future together."

The royal couple then made their way to the Government Buildings in Dublin city centre.

Kate and William were greeted on the steps of the Upper Merrion Street building by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett.

The Cambridges went inside the Department of the Taoiseach to have a meeting with Mr Varadkar.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet with Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett. Credit: PA

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 will also meet the Taoiseach, or prime minister, Leo Varadkar.

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

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 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.

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.

During their three-day visit William and Kate will also visit the counties of Meath, Kildare and Galway.

  • Paul Reilly has this report: