WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: Michael D. Higgins, Queen and Elizabeth II pose for a photograph ahead of a State Banquet on April 8, 2014 in Windsor, England. Guests and dignitaries including Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness attending the banquet at the end of the first day of a state visit by Ireland's Michael D. Higgins. Ireland's Michael D. Higgins is making the first state visit by a president of the republic since it gained independence from neighbouring Britain. The visit comes three years after Queen Elizabeth II made a groundbreaking trip to the republic, which helped to heal deep-rooted unease and put British-Irish relations on a new footing. Higgins' return visit will be seen as an official sign of further progress following the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland, which remains part of the United Kingdom.