12:00PM, Monday 07 April 2014
Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina are set to arrive in London this afternoon as part of an historic state visit that will see them stay as guests of the Queen at Windsor Castle.
The visit, which is the first state visit to the UK by an Irish president, officially begins tomorrow when the President and Mrs Higgins will be met by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Irish Embassy, London.
They will travel to Windsor where they will receive a ceremonial welcome from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Dais in Datchet Road.
Horse-drawn carriages will then take them up to the castle, travelling along Datchet Road, Thames Street, High Street, Park Street and Long Walk, accompanied by the Household Cavalry.
More than 90 flagpoles have been installed along the route, decorated with Union and Irish banners.
Businesses will be open as usual but there will be extensive road closures from 9.45am.
As well as the procession route itself, roads affected are:
- Castle Hill
- Thames Avenue
- Barry Avenue
- River Street
- Goswell Road
- Farm Yard
- B470 King Edward VII Avenue
- B470 Windsor Road, Datchet
To allow for troop movements there will be No Waiting in force from 6am until 3pm on parts of the A308 at Osborne Road and Frances Road.
The troop movements will also mean short closures at the following roads:
- Albert Road, between the entrance to Shaw Farm and the Osborne Road junction
- Kings Road between the Bolton Road and Osborne Road junctions
- the entire length of Osborne Road
- Alma Road between its junctions with Goslar Way and Osborne Road
- St Leonards Road between the Bolton Road and Alma Road junctions
Drivers are advised to avoid the area during these times.
Parking will be suspended in all the affected roads during the closures.
Most Royal Borough car parks will be open as usual, with the exception of River Street, Romney Lock and King Edward VII Avenue.
On-street parking in certain parts of the town centre will be suspended and free parking offered elsewhere.
Click here for details.
See Friday's Express for photos.
The rest of the programme for the state visit is as follows:
Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 8):
Following the carriage procession a Guard of Honour will give a Royal Salute in the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle and the President and the Duke will inspect them before joining the Queen and Mrs Higgins on the Dais to view the Rank and Mark Past of the military.
After a private lunch the President and Mrs Higgins will be invited to view an exhibition of Irish-related items from the Royal Collection in the Green Drawing Room.
During the afternoon they will visit Westminster Abbey, where they will receive a tour and the President will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, and the Palace of Westminster, where they will be welcomed by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker and the President will deliver an address in the Royal Gallery and attend a reception in the Royal Robing Room.
President Higgins will later receive a call at Windsor Castle by the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband MP.
In the evening the Queen will give a State Banquet at Windsor Castle where she and the President will both make speeches.
Wednesday, April 9:
In the morning, the President and Mrs Higgins will be joined by the Duke of York, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Irish Regiment, to view the Colours of the disbanded Irish Regiments at Windsor Castle.
Afterwards, the President and Mrs Higgins will visit University College Hospital, London, and the Royal Society.
In the afternoon they will meet Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street for a private lunch and a bilateral meeting.
Later they will attend a youth workshop event at City Hall, before receiving a call at Buckingham Palace from the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg.
In the evening President and Mrs Higgins will attend a banquet at the Guildhall in London given by the Lord Mayor, where both the President and the Mayor will make speeches.
Thursday, April 10:
In the morning the President and Mrs Higgins will visit Food Animal Initiative (FAI) Farms, Oxford, and Park House Stables at Kingsclere, Newbury.
In the afternoon the Queen will host a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle.
In the evening the President and Mrs Higgins will attend Ceiliúradh - an Irish cultural concert - at the Royal Albert Hall.
Friday, April 11:
The President and Mrs Higgins will formally bid farewell to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle in the morning.
They will then visit the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon, as well as Shakespeare's birthplace.
In the afternoon they will visit Coventry Cathedral and St Mary's Guildhall, before the Lord Chamberlain will bid farewell to them on behalf of the Queen at Coventry Airport.
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