The first visit to the 26-County state by a reigning British monarch will take place over three days in May, according to reports.
The purpose of the visit by ‘Queen of England’ Elizabeth Windsor is to emphasise the normalisation of political relations between the two states following the peace process in the North.
Discussions on the timing and security arrangements for the controversial event are unbderstood to have been held repeatedly over recent months with the British embassy in Dublin, British officials in London and with the Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.
It would be one of the new Taoiseach’s first major engagements. The decision to brief Mr Kenny is the result of a widely held belief that he will head the government after the general election.
CHARLES AT ST MALACHY’S
On Friday, an unannounced visit by ‘Prince’ Charles Windsor to St Malachy’s Church in the Markets area of east Belfast was apparently intended to help prepare the way for his mother.
Windsor, the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment that killed thirteen people on Bloody Sunday, was welcomed by DUP leader Peter Robinson, SDLP politians and local Catholic clergy.
SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell said that the visit was “a milestone” which he hoped would pave the way for the royal visit to Dublin.
“Charles was extremely well received - he was very cordial and gracious. I think it shows that the turbulent past is passed and we are moving on.”
He added: “I see a lot of this in the context of normalising relations between Britain and Ireland. I welcome that.”
Questioned by reporters this weekend about the queen’s visit, 26-County officials would go no further than to say that “planning is continuing”. However, she is predicted to make a “major” speech in Dublin Castle on relations between the two countries.
The Castle was the seat of British power in Ireland until January 1922 and remains a highly fortified and easily secured location.
A number of republican organisations, including Sinn Fein, have said they will protest against the visit.