DUBLIN – The United Kingdom’s Prince William and Kate visited the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday in their first official tour of the country.
The royal couple made the trip in a bid to strengthen the reconciliation process and cultural ties between the two countries.
It was the first visit made by any member of the British royal family to the country since the UK officially left the European Union on 31 January, in an indication of London’s interest in normalizing its relationship with Dublin which has been shaken by Brexit.
Kensington Palace said in a statement the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were “looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the Irish people.”
The Queen last visited the country in 2011 with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh in the first trip by a British monarch to Ireland since its independence from the UK.
Irish Police deployed a strong presence to ensure the safety of royals, with an estimated cost to the taxpayer of around one million euros, a fraction of the almost 20 million the deployment cost during the Queen’s visit eight years ago.
William, second in line to the British throne, and Kate were received on Tuesday in Dublin by Irish president Michael Higgins.
The couple will travel to County Meath, County Kildare and the city of Galway on the west coast.
“From its thriving cities to rural communities, the programme will take in Ireland’s rich culture, its impactful community initiatives and spectacular scenery,” Kensington Palace said.
“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.”
In addition to its diplomatic importance, Irish authorities also viewed the trip as an opportunity to take advantage of the popularity of the royal couple to promote tourism in the country.
Brexit has not affected the arrival of holidaymakers from other parts of the world, although it has caused a decline in visits by Brits.
William and Kate were not accompanied by their three young children George, six, Charlotte, four, and Louis, aged one.
Kensington Palace and Irish authorities have not published the exact details of the program of the royal visit for security reasons.