President Higgins was given a guided tour of Windsor Castle by the Duke of York which included a tribute to the bravery of Irish soldiers which has hung above a grand stairway in the palace since 1922.
Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Irish Regiment Prince Andrew showed Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina, the colours of the six Irish regiments of the British Army that were disbanded when Ireland gained independence in 1922.
They were moved to the castle by King George V in honour of the sacrifice made by Irish soldiers in the First World War and other conflicts.
The colours have only once been moved from their Windsor home – and that was to save them from the 1992 fire at the castle.
‘Needs must, we took them out,’ said the Duke.
In a message to all six regiments, George V said: ‘The Colours are to be preserved and held in reverence at Windsor Castle as a perpetual record of your noble exploits in the field.’
Mr and Mrs Higgins looked over the colours of the Royal Irish Regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, the Prince of Wales’ Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), and the Royal Munster Fusiliers. The South Irish Horse did not have a colour.
Some 140,000 Irish men signed up for regiments in Ireland at the 0utbreak of the First World War – a hundred years ago in August – and a further 58,000 Irishmen were already serving in the British Army in England and the Empire.