By staff reporter
WINDSOR’S 12th State Visit since 1998 takes place on Tuesday 8 April when the Royal Borough will welcome President Michael D Higgins, Ireland’s Head of State, and Mrs Sabina Higgins at the start of their UK visit.
The President will be greeted by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh on a specially built pavilion in Datchet Road, followed by the traditional carriage procession through the town.
The State Visit procession will be the usual spectacular occasion but there will be more to see, both during the rehearsal on April 3, when members of the armed services get ready for the event, and on the day itself, with bands, parades and mounted troops a colourful part of the procession.
The President and Mrs Higgins are scheduled to arrive in Windsor on Tuesday 8 April and will be greeted by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.
Present to give the State Visitors a warm welcome will be Mayor of the Royal Borough Cllr Andrew Jenner, Windsor MP Adam Afriyie and Mike McGaughrin, the Council’s Managing Director. Also taking part in the ceremony will be the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Mrs Mary Bayliss, and High Sheriff Christopher Khoo.
After this short ceremony the royal party and their guests will board horse-drawn carriages for the State Procession to Windsor Castle, accompanied by a Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry
The procession route will be along Datchet Road, Thames Street, High Street (past the Guildhall), Park Street and the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. The route will be lined with representatives from the armed services.
More than 9 flagpoles are being installed along the route and will be decorated with Union and Irish banners. Banners of the Royal Borough will be displayed on the flagpoles outside the Guildhall, where councillors in their distinctive blue robes will gather to watch the procession.
For those hoping to watch the parade, the entire route from Datchet Road to Windsor Castle provides excellent opportunities to see both the rehearsal and the State Visit processions.
To get the best view, the public is advised to avoid the traditionally crowded areas in the town centre and find a viewing place on Datchet Road, the bottom of Thames Street, High Street (past the Guildhall) or Park Street.
Although crowd control barriers will be placed along the route, there will be frequent and accessible crossing points for pedestrians during the road closures – these will be closed to enable troop movements and during the State Visit procession.
To help ensure that people who are disabled have an uninterrupted view, a special area will be set up at the King George V Memorial at the bottom of Thames Street. This area is restricted to people with disabilities and their carers.
On rehearsal day (Thursday 3 April) and for the State Visit procession (Tuesday 8 April), several roads in Windsor town centre will be closed for part of each day, from 8.45am for the rehearsal and 9.45am for the State Visit.
All roads should be open again by 3pm on both days, although the council and police will work hard to re-open the town before then if at all possible, depending on when the procession route is clear and safety is not at risk.
Despite road closures, all of Windsor and Eton’s shops, cafés and restaurants will be open as usual, as will most car parks. All pedestrianised areas and shopping centres will be fully accessible throughout the day.