Belfast's mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir 'honoured' by invitation to meet Queen at Windsor Castle
Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir has spoken of his "honour" at receiving an invitation to visit Windsor Castle to meet the Queen.
The Sinn Fein man is set for another historic first this afternoon when he becomes the first mayor from his party to shake hands with the monarch.
He was due to travel to England this morning where he will meet the Queen during a reception at Windsor on the third day of Irish President Michael D Higgins' visit.
The move comes two days after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness broke with republican tradition by standing for the British national anthem and taking part in a toast to the Queen.
In response to a question asked by one of the Belfast Telegraph's young editors, Kate Umphray, during an interview yesterday, the Lord Mayor confirmed he would meet the Queen.
He said Mr Higgins had issued a joint invitation to him and the Mayor of Dublin, Oisin Quinn, to take part in the historic four-day visit – the first of an Irish President to the UK.
"I will be going to Windsor Castle, and I will be the first mayor from Sinn Fein to meet a member of the royal family," he said.
"The mayor of Dublin, Oisin Quinn, and I will have the great honour of joining the President of Ireland's delegation.
"We are very honoured by that invitation.
"At the start of the year I said I would try and be a Lord Mayor for all. It's easier to say things than do them. I am not the Dalai Lama, but I set out to build the peace and make Belfast better.
"If we could agree on as many things as possible, we could avoid political paralysis, and also agree a protocol for how we disagree so we have a way of living together."
Last November, Mr O Muilleoir became the first Sinn Fein member to take part in an Armistice Day ceremony and two weeks ago hosted the Royal British Legion at Belfast City Hall.