A state visit is a formal visit by a head of state to a foreign country, at the invitation of the head of state of that foreign country, with the latter also acting as the official host for the duration of the state visit. Speaking for the host, it is generally called a state reception. State visits are considered to be the highest expression of friendly bilateral relations between two sovereign states, and are in general characterised by an emphasis on official public ceremonies.
Less formal visits than a state visit to another country with a lesser emphasis on ceremonial events, by either a head of state or a head of government, can be classified (in descending order of magnitude) as either an official visit, a working visit, a private visit, or a Guest of Government visit.
In parliamentary democracies, while heads of state in such systems of government may formally issue and accept invitations, they do so on the advice of their heads of government, who usually decides on when the invitation is to be issued or accepted in advance.
Queen Elizabeth II is "the most travelled head of state in the world," having made 261 official overseas visits and 96 state visits to 116 countries by the time of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Although she is sovereign of each of the Commonwealth realms, in practice, she usually performs full state visits as Queen of the United Kingdom, while the relevant governor-general undertakes state visits for his or her respective country on the sovereign's behalf. However, the Queen has occasionally made some state and official visits representing one of her other Commonwealth realms.
State visits typically involve some or all the following components (each host country has its own traditions):
The visiting head of state is usually accompanied by a senior government minister, usually by a foreign minister. Behind the diplomatic protocol, delegations made up from trade organizations also accompanies the visiting head of state, offered an opportunity to network and develop economic, cultural, and social links with industry leaders in the nation being visited. At the end of a state visit, the foreign head of state traditionally issues a formal invitation to the head of state of the nation being visited who at another time in the future, would pay a reciprocal state visit.
While the costs of a state visit are usually borne by state funds of the host country, most nations host fewer than ten state visits per year, with some as few as two. Most foreign heads of state will stay in the official residence of the head of state who is hosting the state visit, in a guest house reserved for foreign visitors, or in their own nation's embassy located in the foreign nation being visited.
State visits to Armenia are held in the capital of Yerevan, with a welcoming ceremony usually being held at Zvartnots International Airport. Foreign heads of state are welcomed at the President's Residence while heads of government are welcomed at the Residence of the Prime Minister. These visits consist of the following components:
|Rank of visitor||State dinner||Arrival ceremony at the Prime Minister's Residence||Arrival ceremony at the President's Residence||Arrival ceremony at the airport||Exchange of diplomatic gifts||Meeting with religious leaders||Address to the National Assembly|
|State visit||head of state||Yes||No||Yes||Maybe||Yes||Yes||Maybe|
|Official visit||head of government||Yes||Yes||No||Maybe||Maybe||Maybe||Maybe|
Since 1991, foreign leaders who embark on visits to Armenia have payed tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide at the Tsitsernakaberd complex. During a visit to the complex, most leaders receive a tour of the museum, plant trees near the memorial, and lay wreaths at the eternal flame.
The Governor General's Foot Guards, one of two household Foot Guards, take part in state, and official visits to Ottawa. Arrival ceremonies take place at either Parliament Hill or Rideau Hall, where they will be received by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Governor General of Canada respectively. State visits also include a visit to the National War Memorial. The Office of Protocol coordinates the operational aspects of state and official visits to Canada and manages all events that are related to the visit. It also defines the protocol standards for state visits of heads of state and government.
State and official visits by Canada is performed by the Monarch of Canada or a representative—the Governor General, a lieutenant governor, or another member of the Royal Family. The first state visit by Canada was to the United States in 1937, when the United States accorded the Governor General the equivalent status given to a visiting head of state. However, the Governor General was not formally empowered to represent Canada for state visits until 1947, when the Letters Patent came into effect.
Tours of Canada by the Monarch of Canada (and other members of the Royal Family) are not state/official visits, as the monarch conducts their royal tours in their capacity as the Canadian head of state, and not as a foreign head of state. Additionally, because the Canadian sovereign is shared with 15 other Commonwealth realms, state visits are not conducted between Canada and the other Commonwealth realms, with official visits performed by the realms' respective governor-general, or prime minister.
State arrival ceremonies in China take place at the East Court of the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The Guard of honour for the ceremony is provided by the Beijing Garrison Honor Guard with musical accompaniment provided by the Central Military Band of the People's Liberation Army of China.
As the military band plays the national anthems of the two countries, an honours company fires a 21-Gun Salute. After the band finishes its performance, the two leaders then inspect the guard of honour at the invitation of the guard commander. Following the inspection, both leaders embrace schoolchildren who wave flowers and the flags of both countries. At this time, the band performs a military march or folk song from the guest country.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Honor Guard then marches off the square to the tune of the March of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The ceremony ends with the marching band of the PLA performing an exhibition of military drill.
During state visits, national awards are presented to visiting dignitaries, including the Order of Friendship.
The military welcome accorded to foreign leaders at Prague Castle are provided by troops of the Prague Castle Guard, Honor Guard of the Czech Armed Forces, the Czech Army Central Band, the Band of the Castle Guards and Police and units of the Prague Garrison Command.
State arrival ceremonies are held at either the Elysee Palace or Les Invalides, with the participation of the Infantry and Fanfare Band of the French Republican Guard Band and the 1st Infantry Regiment of the Republican Guard. The Vestibule d'Honneur (Hall of Honour) in the Elysee is where the President of France meets visiting dignitaries an holds bilateral meetings. Towards the end of the visit, the head of state or governments will give a speech at the Palais Bourbon to the Senate of France, and will hold meetings with members of parliament. Sometime during the state visit, the visiting dignitary will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.
State visits in Georgia are held outside the Presidential Administration of Georgia in Tbilisi. Ceremonial honours are provided by the Honour Guard and the Band of the National Guard of Georgia. The band plays Georgian Army songs during the inspection of the honour guard. During the Presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili, the band played the March of the Preobrazhensky Regiment during state visits.
During state visits, a dignitaries usually meet with the Prime Minister, Chairperson of Parliament, and the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia separately from the president. State dinners are also held inside the presidential palace with officials from both countries present.
During state visits to Germany, honours are provided by the German Wachbataillon (Guard battalion) and the Staff Band of the Bundeswehr. Depending on the status of the guest, state ceremonies are either held at the Bellevue Palace or the Federal Chancellery Complex. In recent years, state visits have been marked with dignitaries paying homage at memorials such as the Berlin Victory Column, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the Soviet War Memorial (Tiergarten).
During state visits, foreign dignitaries typically visit German federal states outside the capital. It this regard, a full honors ceremony is also held with the minister-president being the presiding officer.
Foreign leaders are received at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi during state visits. The dignitary first receives the salute from the President's Bodyguard (PBG), and the Tri-Services Guard of Honour. Heads of State is also given a 21-gun salute, with a 19-gun salute being to Heads of government. The massed bands and the commander of the guard of honour is chosen by a rotation between the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force. In 2015, Wing Commander Pooja Thakur became the first female officer to lead the guard of honour for a foreign leader.
State banquets are also held for foreign dignitaries at the Rashtrapati Bhavan which are hosted by the President of India. Over 100 guests are invited to attend state banquets, including the Vice-President of India, the Prime minister of India, as well as government officials and leaders of the ruling party.
The President of the State of Israel, in his/her position as head of state, leads the welcoming events and is the official host of foreign leaders who visit Israel. A Guard of Honor made up of personnel of all the service branches of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are usually lined up at the main V.I.P terminal of Tel Aviv International Airport.
When dignitaries arrive in the Italian capital of Rome, they are received in a short reception ceremony at the airport by the Head of the Diplomatic Ceremonial Office among other officials, who then briefly entertain the guest in the boardroom to allow the handling of airport formalities. Arrival honors for foreign dignitaries visiting Rome are held either at the Quirinal Palace (official residence of the President of the Italian Republic) or the Palazzo Chigi (official residence of the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic). During the ceremony, the guard of honor is provided by a military unit (most likely the Corazzieri and a selected ceremonial unit such as the Honour Company "Goito" from the 1° Regiment "Granatieri di Sardegna") and a supporting military band that performs 3 Ruffles and flourishes known as "Onori" ("Honors") prior to playing the national anthem of the dignitary's home country and Il Canto degli Italiani. In recent years, the Bersaglieri, the Carabinieri, and the Italian Navy have provided honor guards for the ceremony.
The rest of the day includes bilateral meetings, one on one conversations, a joint press conference, and a state dinner, where the exchange of gifts and the awarding of honors takes place. The next day sees the laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Altar of the Homeland. All protocol events in the capital are organized by the State Ceremonial Office. In particular, the Ceremonial Office of the Ministry of Defense handles protocol related to the Italian Armed Forces, and the Diplomatic Ceremonial Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handles protocol related to the diplomatic corps.
State visits are planned in accordance with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs one month in advance. Arrival ceremonies for state visits to Kyrgyzstan typically take place at Manas International Airport with the participation of the Honour Guard Battalion of the 701st Military Unit of the National Guard and the Band of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Kyrgyzstan. A wreath laying ceremony is also held at Victory Square. A bilateral meeting, press conference, and state dinner are all held at the Ala Archa State Residence.
The Kyrgyz official welcoming group includes the Chairman of the Supreme Council, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The official morning breakfast reception takes place from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Arrival ceremonies are also held at the state residences all over the country.
State visits (Visita de Estado) to Mexico City are held on a regular basis. Arrival ceremonies are usually held at the National Palace, the president's workplace or at Mexico City International Airport. On certain occasions, a full honors ceremony with the participation of the Mexican Armed Forces joint-service Presidential Guards Corps are held at Campo Marte, where the corps' two military police brigades are stationed.
The arrival ceremony begins with the PGC Honor Guard presenting arms while the Representative Music Band of the Mexican Armed Forces plays the anthems of the two countries (the Mexican Anthem is always played first). Then the President of Mexico intorduces members of his/he cabinet before the visiting dignitary indroduces members of their delegation accompanying them on this visit. After this is done, the commander of the honour guard then delivers the following report to the dignitary:
The president and the dignitary then inspect the guard, paying homage to the Mexican flag and the flag of the guest country along the way. The ceremony then ends and the two go into the palace to begin their bilateral meeting. The Campo Marte ceremony is similar in style to the palace ceremony with the main differences being a 21 gun salute, opening remarks, and the military parade being added to the program.
State visits in the Netherlands (Staatsbezoek) revolve around and are centered on the capital of Amsterdam. Characteristics of a state visit is that it is usually carried out by a foreign head of state, rather than a head of government. Upon arrival to the country, the dignitary will be given a tour through the capital, which includes a wreath laying ceremony at the National Monument. Foreign dignitaries are usually received by the monarch at the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, where they receive a guard of honour formed by the Grenadiers' and Rifles Guard Regiment upon arrival. It is here where all matters of state and bilateral meetings take place over the course of the visit.
During a state visit, the Dutch monarch always hosts a state dinner in honor of the guest, usually at the monarch's residence at the Noordeinde Palace. It is customary to be awarded the Knight Grand Cross Order of the Netherlands Lion during state visits.
State visits to the Norwegian capital of Oslo begin with the inspecting of the 3rd Company, Hans Majestet Kongens Garde at the Royal Palace by the visiting dignitary and the Norwegian monarch. Once they are in the palace, the monarch takes the dignitary to the Bird Room to engage in an exchange of gifts. The visit also includes a wreath laying ceremony at Akershus Fortress, which is also an official residence of the Prime Minister of Norway. In the evening, a gala dinner hosted by the Royal Family of Norway is held at the Royal Palace in honour of the visiting head of state.
As it refers to state visits by the Monarch of Norway, they are always accompanied by the Norwegian foreign minister and representatives of the Government. Between 2-4 state visits to Oslo and Royal visits to other countries are made per year, usually by the reigning monarch.
State visits (Polish: Wizyta Państwowa) take place on a regular basis in Poland. Ceremonial honours a provided by the Representative Honor Guard Regiment of the Polish Armed Forces (Polish: Pulk Reprezentacyjny Wojska Polskiego) at the Presidential Palace. Musical accompaniment is provided by the Representative Central Band of the Polish Armed Forces.
The White Hall in the Presidential Palace is used to host foreign heads of state. The hall is located at the main entrance from the courtyard, where the welcoming ceremony takes place.
The Department of State Protocol of the Russian Foreign Ministry is responsible for organizing the itinerary for state visits to the country. It was founded on December 18, 1991, by Decree No. 291 of President Boris Yeltsin on the basis of the Foreign Policy Service of the RSFSR. The decree, in effect, provided a new unified protocol practice in the Russian Federation. It's duties ranges from organizing invitations to the country to developing an event schedule for the dignitary's visit. Common practices organized by the department include protocol events meetings, wreath-laying, breakfast, and lunch, among others. The Presidential Protocol Office in the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation also serves a similar purpose.
A foreign head of state or government receives arrival honours from the 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment and the Special Exemplary Military Band upon their arrival at the VIP terminal at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, where they are usually greeted by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister. Heads of State also take part in a welcoming ceremony with the President of Russia in the Hall of the Order of St. George of the Grand Kremlin Palace.
The following is Estonian diplomat Tiit Matsulevitš's opinion on Russian protocol for state visits:
"Russian diplomacy has a centuries-old tradition, I consider the Russian protocol to be one of the best in the world. The protocol service of Russia is very correct."— Tiit Matsulevitš, Estonian Ambassador to Russia from 1999-2001
State visits to the Kingdom of Spain are held with the participation of the King and Queen of Spain. The day's events begin as the visiting dignitary arrives in a special vehicle at the Palacio Real in the Spanish capital of Madrid. As the dignitary arrives, units of the Spanish Royal Guard (including the Mounted Band of Timpani and Bugles and the Lancers Troop) prepares for the start of the arrival ceremony. The ceremony starts with all units presenting arms at the sound of a bugle call and performing a royal salute, with the playing of the guest anthem and the Marcha Real taking place. Once the regiment is orders arms, 3 senior officers from the guard (a senior commander, a bugler and a guidon bearer) approach the central grandstand to report to the guest and His Majesty the king on the readiness of the regiment for inspection. They then begin their inspection, reviewing the infatry as well as the mounted units. Once the review is complete, a large military parade in the forecourt of the palace is held with the massed bands playing military music as the units march past.
The other notable state ceremony that takes place in the palace is the state dinner, which is hosted by the King, and is attended by the visiting dignitary, his/her delegation, the Spanish Royal Family, the Spanish Prime Minister, and other government officials. During the course of the visit, the visiting leader may deliver an address to a joint session of the bicameral Cortes Generales (composed of the Senate and the Congress of Deputies).
A state visit to the United Kingdom is a royal event which involves the Queen and other members of the Royal family. An arrival ceremony usually takes place on Horse Guards Parade (There are also some instances where it takes place at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle) with a Guard of Honour being provided by members of the Queen's Guard. The guard of honour will always report to the dignitary in the language of the visitor, with the report being along the lines of the following:
Depending on the area where the ceremony takes place, a march past will immediately take place following the inspection. The foreign guest and the Queen then travel to Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession escorted by a large number of mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry. The welcome ceremony is accompanied by 21-gun salutes fired from Green Park and the Tower of London. Around 150 guests are invited to Buckingham Palace for the state banquet in the evening in the ballroom.
State visits do not formally occur between the United Kingdom and the 15 other Commonwealth realms, as the realms all share a common monarch and head of state. Visits conducted by the British monarch to another Commonwealth realm is also not considered a state visits; as the sovereign tours the country as the monarch in right of that respective realm. As a result, visits between the Commonwealth realms take place as official visits. Official visits to another Commonwealth realm by the United Kingdom is typically conducted by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Conversely, official visits to the United Kingdom by another Commonwealth realm is typically performed by their respective governor general, or prime minister.
State visits to Washington, D.C. only occur on the invitation of the President of the United States in their position as head of state and head of the Federal government of the United States. Official visits refer to a visit by a head of government to Washington. During state visits, there are usually many events taking place in the capital, with the participation of hundreds of individuals.
Media related to State visits at Wikimedia CommonsAustria–Japan relations
Austrian-Japanese relations (Japanese: 日本とオーストリアの関係 / 日墺関係) are foreign relations between Austria and Japan. Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1869. Austria has an embassy in Tokyo and four honorary consulates: in Hiroshima, Nagoya, Osaka and Sapporo. Japan has an embassy in Vienna and an honorary consulate in Salzburg.
In June 1999, the President of Austria Thomas Klestil paid a state visit to Japan. It was the first state visit of an Austrian President to Japan.In 2007, Japan was Austria's third most important overseas trade partner.Austria–Saudi Arabia relations
Austria – Saudi Arabia relations are foreign relations between Austria and Saudi Arabia. Both countries had diplomatic contact since 7 July 1880, with the opening of an Austrian consulate in Jeddah (then under Ottoman occupation). Official and direct diplomatic relations were established on 10 September 1957.
Today, Austria has an embassy in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia has an embassy in Vienna.
In October 2001, the President of Austria Thomas Klestil paid a state visit to Saudi Arabia.In April 2004, then Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia paid a state visit to Austria.In March 2006, the President of Austria Heinz Fischer paid a state visit to Saudi Arabia.Bhutan–Japan relations
The Bhutan–Japan relations refers to the diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Japan. Diplomatic relations were established on March 28, 1986.Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Carl XVI Gustaf (Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus; born 30 April 1946) is the King of Sweden. He ascended the throne on the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, on 15 September 1973.
He is the youngest child and only son of Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His father died on 26 January 1947 in an airplane crash in Denmark when Carl Gustaf was nine months old. Upon his father's death, he became second in line to the throne, after his grandfather, the then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf. Following the death of King Gustaf V in 1950, Gustaf Adolf ascended the throne and thus Carl Gustaf became Sweden's new crown prince and heir apparent to the throne at the age of four.
A short while after he became king in 1973, the new 1974 Instrument of Government took effect, formally stripping Carl XVI Gustaf of any role in the legislative process, and several other duties normally accorded to a head of state, such as the formal appointment of the prime minister, signing off legislation, and being commander-in-chief of the nation's military. The new instrument explicitly limits the king to ceremonial functions and, among other things, to be regularly informed of affairs of state. As head of the House of Bernadotte Carl Gustaf has also been able to make a number of government-supported decisions about the titles and positions of its members.
The king's heir apparent, after passage on 1 January 1980 of a new law establishing absolute primogeniture (the first such law passed in European history), is Crown Princess Victoria, the eldest child of the King and his wife, Queen Silvia. Before the passage of that law, Crown Princess Victoria's younger brother, Prince Carl Philip, was briefly the heir apparent, as of his birth in May 1979.
Carl XVI Gustaf is the longest-reigning monarch in Swedish history, having surpassed King Magnus IV's reign of 44 years and 222 days on 26 April 2018.Egypt–Greece relations
Egyptian–Greek relations refer to bilateral relations between Egypt and Greece. Due to the strong cultural and historical ties between the two nations, Egypt and Greece today enjoy friendly relations. Modern diplomatic relations between the two countries were established after Greece gained its independence in 1821, and are today regarded as cordial. Both countries are members and partners in several international organizations such as UN, IMF, OSCE, and the Union for the Mediterranean, among others.Egypt–Philippines relations
Egypt–Philippines relations refers to the bilateral relations between Egypt and the Philippines. Egypt has an embassy in Manila whilst the Philippines has an embassy in Cairo.Hashim Thaçi
Hashim Thaçi ([hä'ʃɪm 'θɑ:t͡ʃɪ] (listen), born 24 April 1968) is a Kosovar politician who has been the President of Kosovo since April 2016. He was the first Prime Minister of Kosovo and the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the new cabinet led by Isa Mustafa, which assumed office on 12 December 2014.
Thaçi is from the Drenica region in Kosovo, which is where the KLA originated. He studied philosophy in Prishtina, before moving to Switzerland, where he joined the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1993. He rose through the ranks of the KLA to become leader of the most powerful faction by 1999, during the Rambouillet negotiations. He then joined the interim Kosovo administration after the war.
Thaçi became leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which won the largest share of the vote in the 2007 Kosovo elections. In 2008, Thaci declared the independence of Kosovo and became its first prime minister. In 2016 he was elected President of Kosovo. Thaci has pursued a pro-American policy while in office. There have been controversies regarding Thaçi's role in the KLA and allegations about him being involved in organized crime.List of diplomatic visits to India
This is a list of heads of state and heads of government who have visited India.List of diplomatic visits to the Philippines
This is a list of diplomatic visits made to the Philippines for diplomatic reasons, which is classified by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs as either a state visit, official visit, or working visit.The scope of the list includes visits by:
heads of state and heads of government
The top leaders of international organizations whose membership compose of sovereign nations (e.g. United Nations, European Union)Excluded are visits by (but not limited to):
Government ministers/secretaries, unless if the person makes the visit under the capacity stated above (e.g. Prime Ministers)
Government agency heads
Heads of sub-national jurisdictions (e.g. states, provinces, cities)
Members of royal families aside from the reigning monarch
Spouses of the head of states and governmentsSultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei has the most visits, with 7, followed by President Sukarno of Indonesia, with 6. Representatives from Thailand have the most visits, with 25. Representatives from the United States have the most visits outside of Asian countries. Ban Ki-moon has the most visits via a Secretary General of the United Nations, with two visits. Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo's 1943 visit was the first state visit to the Philippines, while Sukarno's first visit in 1951 was the first visit since the Philippines was granted independence.List of international presidential trips made by Abdullah Gül
This is a list of presidential trips made by Abdullah Gül, the 11th President of Republic of Turkey. During his presidency, which began with his inauguration on August 28, 2007, Abdullah Gül has travelled to 63 different states internationally as of February 2014.List of international prime ministerial trips made by Narendra Modi
The following is a list of international prime ministerial trips made by Narendra Modi since he became the Prime Minister of India following the Indian general election, 2014.Lord-in-waiting
Lords-in-waiting (female: baronesses-in-waiting) are peers who hold office in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom.There are two kinds of lords-in-waiting: political appointees by the government of the day who serve as government whips in the House of Lords (the senior whips have the positions of Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms and Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard); and non-political appointments by the monarch, as an honour for retiring courtiers, who sit as crossbenchers.
As members of the Royal Household their duties are nominal, though they are occasionally required to meet visiting political and state leaders on visits to the United Kingdom. For instance, on 23 May 2011, when Barack Obama travelled to the United Kingdom from Ireland one day earlier than had originally been planned, he was greeted by the Lord-in-Waiting Viscount Brookeborough, who met him on behalf of the Queen. In 2014, Viscount Hood welcomed President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland to the UK. Again in 2015, Viscount Hood welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping on a State Visit to the UK. As political appointees, the Sovereign appoints them on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
A number of non-political lords-in-waiting are also appointed, as well as permanent lords-in-waiting, who are usually retired senior officials of the Royal Household. These, being non-political, are at the personal discretion of the sovereign. For example, Lord Janvrin who was, until 2007, the Private Secretary to the Queen, was installed upon his retirement as a life peer in the House of Lords and serves as one of Her Majesty's permanent lords-in-waiting.Philippe of Belgium
Philippe or Filip (French pronunciation: [filip], Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfi.lɪp], French: Philippe Léopold Louis Marie, Dutch: Filip Leopold Lodewijk Maria, German: Philipp Leopold Ludwig Maria; born 15 April 1960) is the King of the Belgians, having ascended the throne on 21 July 2013, following his father's abdication. He is the eldest child of King Albert II, whom he succeeded upon Albert's abdication for health reasons, and Queen Paola. He married Countess Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz (now Queen Mathilde), with whom he has four children. King Philippe's elder daughter, Princess Elisabeth, is first in the line of succession.Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom
The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom was held from 16 to 19 September 2010 and was the first visit by a pope to Britain after Pope John Paul II made a pastoral, rather than state, visit in 1982. The visit included the beatification of Cardinal Newman as a "pastoral highlight".Pope Benedict's visit included meetings with the Queen, the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron, and leaders of the other main political parties.
The Pope's itinerary included open air Masses in Glasgow and Birmingham, a youth vigil in Hyde Park in London, and Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London, attended by over 200,000 people.Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland
Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Duke of Värmland (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈkɑːɭ ˈfiːlɪp]; Carl Philip Edmund Bertil; born 13 May 1979) is the only son and the second of three children of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. As of 2016, Prince Carl Philip is fourth in the line of succession, after his older sister, Crown Princess Victoria, his niece and goddaughter Princess Estelle, and his nephew Prince Oscar. He lives with his wife, Princess Sofia, and two sons, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel, in Villa Solbacken in central Stockholm.Queen Silvia of Sweden
Queen Silvia of Sweden (born Silvia Renate Sommerlath on 23 December 1943) is the spouse of King Carl XVI Gustaf and mother of the heir apparent to the throne, Crown Princess Victoria. In 2011, Silvia became the longest-serving queen of Sweden, a record previously held by Sophia of Nassau.Southern Lebanon
Southern Lebanon (Lebanese Arabic: Jnoub, meaning "south") is the area of Lebanon comprising the South Governorate and the Nabatiye Governorate. The two entities were divided from the same province in the early 1990s. The Rashaya and Western Beqaa Districts, the southernmost districts of the Beqaa Governorate, in Southern Lebanon are sometimes included.
The main cities of the region are Sidon, Tyre, Jezzine and Nabatiyeh. The cazas of Bint Jbeil, Tyre, and Nabatieh in Southern Lebanon are known for their large Shi'a Muslim population with a minority of Christians. Sidon is predominantly Sunni, with the rest of the caza of Sidon having a Shi'a Muslim majority, with a considerable Christian minority, mainly Melkite Greek Catholics. The cazas of Jezzine and Marjeyoun have a Christian majority and also Shia Muslims. The villages of Ain Ebel, Debel, Qaouzah, and Rmaich are entirely Christian Maronite. The caza of Hasbaya has a Druze majority.State visit of Elizabeth II to the Republic of Ireland
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, made a state visit to the Republic of Ireland from 17 May to 20 May 2011, at the invitation of the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.
It was the first visit by a reigning British monarch to the area that is now the Republic of Ireland since the 1911 tour by Elizabeth's grandfather King George V, when the entire island of Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
The intervening period saw the 1916 proclamation of the Irish Republic during the Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland. A military conflict from January 1919 led ultimately to the partition of Ireland in December 1922. Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom, while the Irish Free State became a self-governing and then fully independent Dominion within the British Empire. In 1936 the Irish Free State removed all reference to the British monarchy from its Constitution but the Commonwealth determined to continue to treat it as a member of the Commonwealth. In 1937 the Irish Free State adopted a republican constitution and renamed itself Ireland. In 1949 Ireland ended its practice of associating itself with the countries comprising the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth decided to regard it as no longer being a Commonwealth member.
While the visit was notable for being the first by the Queen to the Republic, she had visited the island of Ireland on many occasions during her reign; however, her visits were always confined to Northern Ireland. She had also been visited in London by President Mary Robinson in May 1993 and then several times by President McAleese since 1997.
The visit was seen as a symbolic normalisation of Republic of Ireland–United Kingdom relations following the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which settled most outstanding territorial disputes between the states, including the abandonment by the Republic of its territorial claim to Northern Ireland, thereby removing a major obstacle to a royal visit. Arrangements for the visit included the largest security operation in the history of the Republic of Ireland. During the visit, the Queen visited sites of significance for Irish nationalism in Dublin, such as the Garden of Remembrance and Croke Park, scene of the 1920 Bloody Sunday massacre. She also delivered a widely praised speech on the history of relations between the two countries.
The visit was criticised by Irish republican and socialist groups. Sinn Féin, the United Left Alliance, some independent TDs and several smaller republican and socialist groups were opposed to the visit, with protests organised at locations on the Queen's itinerary.
In April 2014, President Michael D. Higgins reciprocated the Queen's visit when he became the first Irish president to make a state visit to the United Kingdom.State visit of the President of Ireland to the United Kingdom
The State visit of the President of Ireland to the United Kingdom occurred on 7 April 2014. It was the first state visit of a President of Ireland to the United Kingdom. The visit came three years after the first state visit by a British monarch to Ireland following its independence.
President Michael D. Higgins and First Lady Sabina Higgins were welcomed by Queen Elizabeth II on 8 April at Windsor Castle on the first day of a four-day visit. The President attended a formal meeting with British prime minister David Cameron on the same day.He also met opposition party leaders at Westminster, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.