April 8 - Irish President Michael Higgins becomes Ireland's first president to make a state visit to Britain. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Irish President Michael Higgins became Ireland's first head of state on Tuesday (April 8) to make a state visit to Britain, crowning a big improvement in historically fraught relations between Dublin and its former colonial master. Higgins arrived for lunch at Windsor Castle with the 87-year-old Queen in a horse-drawn carriage as a guard of honor played the British and Irish national anthems. His trip follows a historic visit by the Queen to the Irish Republic in 2011, the first by a British monarch since Dublin won its independence from London in 1921. Higgins, whose office is largely ceremonial, was due to address both houses of Britain's parliament later on Tuesday, a privilege only accorded to a few foreign leaders including Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. In a sign of how far relations have progressed, former Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrilla chief Martin McGuinness will join Higgins at many events, including a banquet to be hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle outside London. Higgins' four-day visit will include events to highlight the deep economic, political and cultural ties between the two countries. His trip will also take in Oxford, Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-on-Avon and the city of Coventry. More than 3,600 people were killed in British-ruled Northern Ireland from the 1960s onward until a 1998 peace deal largely ended the conflict between Catholic groups wanting the province to become part of the Irish Republic and Protestant groups determined to keep it within the United Kingdom.