President Michael D Higgins shook hands with Britain’s new King at a church service in Belfast to honour the life of the late Queen Elizabeth.
The service at St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast saw politicians from across Ireland and Great Britain gather together, all clad in mourning black for the longest reigning Queen in British history.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin was seen chatting to his British counterpart, Liz Truss, while Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was seated next to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris.
This afternoon President and Sabina Higgins attended a service of reflection for the life of Queen Elizabeth II at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast pic.twitter.com/Fw5mWZjqHQ
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) September 13, 2022
During the service, Church of Ireland Primate John McDowell lauded her for paying tribute at the Garden of Remembrance to those who fought for Irish freedom during her 2011 state visit.
"The bowing of the head in respect was far more powerful than much grander gestures,” he said.
Prior to the church service, King Charles and the Queen Consort visited Hillsborough Castle in County Down - the seat of the British monarchy in Northern Ireland.
Hundreds of flowers and tributes had been left outside the castle and the royal couple went on a walkabout to greet well wishers.
“It was an incredible experience, I’ll never wash my hand again!” one schoolgirl told Newstalk.
“I loved meeting the King, so I did!” another said.
This morning, Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland. pic.twitter.com/PEEY1SWyUg
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 13, 2022
While at the castle, the King met the province’s political leaders and pledged to help with reconciliation between the two traditions.
"My mother felt deeply, I know, the significance of the role she herself played in bringing together those who history had separated and extending a hand to make possible the healing of long-held hurts," he said.
"Now, with that shining example before me, and with God's help, I take up my new duties resolved to seek the welfare of all the inhabitants of Northern Ireland."
Stormont Speaker Alex Maskey of Sinn Féin said that the tributes to the late monarch from both communities were testament to how Northern Ireland has changed:
"Yesterday an assembly of unionists, republicans, nationalists and those for whom the Constitution is not a main focus united to pay tribute to the late Queen,” he noted.
"When she first came to the throne, no one would have anticipated an assembly so diverse and inclusive."
Main image: President Higgins.