Prince William and Duchess Kate arrive in Ireland for first official royal visit

Maria Puente, USA TODAY
·5 min read

Britain's long, fraught relationship with next-door Ireland took another positive turn Tuesday when Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge arrived for a three-day royal tour aimed at reinforcing good relations in the post-Brexit era.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, making their first-ever official visit, are to take in Dublin, Galway, County Meath and County Kildare in a busy itinerary aimed at highlighting links between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

The couple was photographed disembarking from a plane at Dublin International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, local time.

Duchess Kate channeled the luck of the Irish, stepping out in all green for the occasion: a patterned green Alessandra Rich dress with a long, darker green Catherine Walker coat, plus an emerald clutch and dark green pointed heels.

The two are scheduled to explore cities and rural communities, sample Irish arts and culture, visit community initiatives and take in some of Ireland's spectacular scenery.

It's another important assignment from the Foreign Office for the future king and queen, who have taken on increasing diplomatic responsibilities on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, 93, the United Kingdom's most successful diplomat.

In 2011, soon after Prince William married the former Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey, the queen made a hugely successful and often moving state visit to Ireland, the first by a reigning British monarch since her grandfather, George V, toured Ireland in 1911, when it was still a restive part of the U.K.

Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Guard of Honor at the Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the President of Ireland, on May 17, 2011 in Dublin.
Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Guard of Honor at the Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the President of Ireland, on May 17, 2011 in Dublin.

"Following Her Majesty's historic visit in 2011, the (Cambridge) visit will also focus on the relationship between the two countries and build on the theme of remembrance and reconciliation," according to Kensington Palace. "The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the Irish people."

So the prince, 37, and the duchess, 38, will be following in the queen's sensible shoes. Not only are they popular around the world, they are more important than ever as young royal ambassadors now that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex are winding down their roles as working royals and preparing to strike out on their own in North America.

Few countries are more important to Britain than Ireland, dominated by the English and later the British for 800 years. They share a border that is the focus of anxiety now that Britain's final divorce from the European Union grows closer.

Ireland is still a member of the EU and no one there or in Northern Ireland wants to return to the three decades of violence – "the Troubles" – that ended with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that, among other things, opened up the "hard" border to free crossings by goods and people.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan also paid a visit to Ireland in July 2018, in their first foreign trip as a married couple following their wedding in May at Windsor Castle. In a speech he gave at a party, Harry paid tribute to the two countries as "each other's closest neighbors."

"The U.K. and Ireland’s relationship is unique; our shared history is long and complex. There have of course been challenging, and at times tragic, periods of that relationship," Harry said, according to a palace transcript of his speech. "On this visit we will also celebrate just how much unites us...We share common values; culture, business links, family ties, and possibly a similar sense of humor."

The Cambridge tour will feature some of Will and Kate's usual interests, including projects empowering young people, Gaelic sports, marine conservation and sustainable farming.

On Tuesday, after arrival in Dublin, they met with President Michael Higgins and with prime minister Leo Varadkar, and played with Brod, Higgins' Bernese Mountain dog. They rang the "Peace Bell" at the presidential residence, Aras an Uachtarain, and attended a commemorative ceremony to lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to those who gave their lives for Irish independence.

The finished off their day at the Guinness Storehouse Brewery in the famous Gravity Bar at a reception hosted by the British ambassador to Ireland, where William delivered a short speech and paid tribute to the queen.

Kate had changed into an iridescent emerald green frock by The Vampire's Wife, featuring ruffles at the hem and sleeves. Both of them sampled the Guinness.

Drink up, Kate! The Duchess of Cambridge has a pint of Guinness at a reception at the Guinness Storehouse's Gravity Bar in Dublin on March 3, 2020.
Drink up, Kate! The Duchess of Cambridge has a pint of Guinness at a reception at the Guinness Storehouse's Gravity Bar in Dublin on March 3, 2020.

"In coming to the Guinness Storehouse, we are retracing the footsteps of my grandmother, who was shown how to pour the perfect pint here in 2011. Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you it is not often that I find myself following The Queen to a pub!" the prince joked. "But I am looking forward to testing for myself the theory that Guinness tastes even better in Ireland than overseas.

"We are very much looking forward to our next two days in Ireland, where I have no doubt we will continue to be impressed by the creativity, warmth and hospitality the Irish people have to offer."

During the tour, they will meet other senior political leaders, along with people who work in the creative arts, business and charity sectors, at receptions. There will be at least one walkabout and a walk along a cliff overlooking the Irish Sea.

And it seems like there will be a fair amount of time spent in Irish bars and pubs: Two more are listed on their itinerary.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kate Middleton, Prince William tour Ireland for first time