Dutch royals begin three-day State visit to Ireland

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands have begun their three-day State visit to Ireland.

The royal couple were welcomed by Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina to Aras an Uachtarain for their first official engagement.

The King and Queen were greeted at the steps of the Aras before the national anthems of the Netherlands and Ireland were played while 21 gun salutes were fired at intervals during the anthems.

The King then inspected the Guard of Honour before joining the Queen, President Higgins and Sabina in the state reception room where they signed the distinguished visitor’s book.

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The Dutch Royals were also greeted by children from Gaelscoil Chomcille and De Medelief school.

In keeping with tradition, the Queen and King planted an alder tree in the garden of the president’s home.

The tradition of planting ceremonial trees in the grounds of the started in September 1853, when Queen Victoria placed the first of three trees.

The tradition was continued after Ireland’s independence, and the first tree planted by a president of Ireland was planted in 1939 by then president Douglas Hyde.

The State visit is the first by a Dutch head of State since Queen Beatrix’s visit in 1990.

The royal couple have been accompanied by a large Dutch delegation made up of representatives from the Dutch government and senior business figures.

Following the official welcome they visited the Garden of Remembrance in the city to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visit Ireland
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visit Ireland

The couple will later visit the Dogpatch Labs in Dublin.

On Wednesday evening they will return to the Aras an Uachtarain for a state banquet.

On Thursday they will visit the Botanical Gardens in the city to see an exhibition on Dutch-Irish cooperation on knowledge, innovation and sustainable agriculture.

They will also meet members of a local Dutch community before being welcomed to Government Buildings by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

For their last Dublin engagement the couple will watch a ballet performance by Dutch dance company, NDT at the Bord Gais theatre.

On Friday they will travel to Cork where they will visit the Naval Pier in Cobh and Crosshaven in west Cork.