State visit to Ireland - programme

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima are to pay a state visit to Ireland at the invitation of Irish president Michael D. Higgins. The visit will take place in Dublin and Cork from 12 to 14 June 2019.

The King and Queen will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok. In parallel with the state visit, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag will be leading an economic mission to Ireland aimed at enhancing the potential for economic cooperation between the Netherlands and Ireland. The mission will comprise a delegation of business leaders from the maritime infrastructure and port development sectors.

The visit can be seen in the context of the broad, deepening political, economic, social and cultural relations between the Netherlands and Ireland. In light of Brexit, too, the Netherlands and Ireland are actively seeking out new markets and forging relations with other countries in Europe. The Netherlands and Ireland have much in common and think alike on many issues, making them key political partners in the EU.

Ireland has been one of Europe’s strongest growing economies for many years, with the Netherlands serving as a key commercial bridge to continental Europe. Both countries also face major social challenges, and can learn from each other’s approaches to these issues. Finally, the state visit will highlight the centuries-old cultural ties between the Netherlands and Ireland.  

Wednesday 12 June

The state visit will begin in Dublin, where President Higgins and his wife, Sabina Higgins, will receive the King and Queen at Áras an Uachtaráin, the president’s official residence. A welcome ceremony will be followed by a short meeting, after which the King and Queen, in accordance with Irish tradition, will plant a tree in the garden and ring the Peace Bell.

The King and Queen will next lay a wreath in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, commemorating the men and women who died in the struggle for Irish independence. In the afternoon, a meeting will take place at the national parliament building, Leinster House, with the presidents of the upper and lower houses of Ireland’s parliament (the Seanad and the Dáil).

The rest of the afternoon will be devoted to IT and high-tech. The King and Queen will visit Dogpatch Labs, a startup hub in the heart of Dublin’s Silicon Docks. The area owes its nickname, a reference to Silicon Valley, to the concentration of IT and tech startups and multinationals that have their European head offices there. The Netherlands and Ireland are on the same page when it comes to technological innovation and startups, and this will be the subject of the royal couple’s meeting with beginning entrepreneurs from both countries. The visit to Dogpatch Labs will also address the challenge of attracting high-tech talent, the importance of staff diversity and of investing in young people’s coding knowledge and skills. Technological innovations in urban development and retail will also be discussed.

The first day of the state visit will conclude with a state banquet at the presidential residence, where both heads of state will deliver a speech.

Thursday 13 June

The second day of the state visit will begin with a visit to the Lord Mayor of Dublin at the Mansion House, where the royal couple will sign the city guest book. The Lord Mayor and King Willem-Alexander will both make brief speeches.

The royal couple will then visit Trinity College Dublin and the Old Library, with its Long Room, the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic and the Brian Boru harp, Ireland’s national symbol. They will also take the time to view the historic Dutch ‘Fagel Collection’, which has been part of the library’s collection since 1802. The National Library of the Netherlands and Trinity College Dublin are working together to provide digital access to the Fagel Collection.

A reception will be held at King’s Inns for Dutch residents in Ireland. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will greet the guests and speak to them about their experience of living and working in Ireland.

In the afternoon, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar will meet with the royal couple at Government Buildings. Their meeting will be followed by the signing of a revised tax treaty to avoid double taxation of income and capital gains and to prevent tax evasion and avoidance.

In the National Botanic Gardens a presentation will be held on Dutch-Irish cooperation in the areas of knowledge innovation and sustainable agriculture, which sees the two countries join forces to tackle challenges relating to sustainability. Ireland is very interested in initiatives in this area in the Netherlands.

In the evening it will be the King and Queen’s turn to play host to the Irish authorities and other guests. The renowned Dutch dance company NDT will give a performance of modern ballet at the Bord Gaís Energy Theatre, followed by a reception.

Friday 14 June

On the third day of the visit the King and Queen will travel by air to Cork, and will be welcomed by the Lord Mayor at City Hall.

The royal party will then travel by boat from Cork to Cobh, during which the King and Queen will be briefed on recent and planned port development and expansion, including the development of the new deepwater terminal.

In Cobh, they will join the Dutch business delegation and their Irish counterparts from the maritime infrastructure and port development industries. The royal couple will speak with them on several issues, including port infrastructure, the digitalisation of port services, the development of Ringaskiddy Deepsea Terminal and cooperation between Dutch and Irish ports.

The King and Queen will also attend the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on future Dutch-Irish cooperation.

The state visit will conclude with a trip to Camden Fort Meagher in Crosshaven, devoted to the important role of volunteer initiatives. Ireland’s rural areas are characterised by the strong sense of community engagement and many clubs and associations. During their tour of the fort, the royal couple will speak with various voluntary organisations in the region, which work in different areas but all aim to strengthen social cohesion. The King and Queen will be welcomed by the volunteers of Rescue Camden, the organisation that has restored the fort (once used to defend Cork against the protestant king William III of England, Prince of Orange) to its former glory.