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William and Kate discuss Brexit with Irish president

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid tribute to their hosts by featuring Ireland’s national colour green in their outfits.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne at Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin (Colin Keegan/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne at Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin (Colin Keegan/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne at Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin (Colin Keegan/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge discussed the implications of Brexit with Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins during the first day of their Irish tour.

William and Kate talked about the UK’s decision to leave the EU during a meeting with the head of state and his wife Sabina – after the duke and duchess paid tribute to their hosts by featuring Ireland’s national colour green in their outfits.

The foursome also chatted about building on the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement which ushered in peace in Northern Ireland, said a spokesman for the president.

And in a symbolic gesture, the couple called for a “brighter future” in a handwritten note left with a wreath laid at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance.

The Cambridges attended a string of formal events during their first official day in Ireland, including meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

William and Kate paid their respects to Ireland’s fallen heroes at the Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to those who rose up against British rule in 1916 and gave their lives for Irish independence.

At the open space, the Queen broke down barriers during her historic 2011 visit by recognising Ireland’s struggle for self-rule.

The couple’s poignant message read: “May we never forget the lessons of history as we continue to build a brighter future together.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attending a wreath-laying ceremony as part of their visit to the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin
William and Kate attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin (Gerry Mooney/PA)

After the meeting at Aras an Uachtarain, the president’s official residence, a spokesman for Mr Higgins confirmed Brexit was among the topics of conversation.

He said: “The couples discussed the close ties between the people of Ireland and Britain and the importance of continuing and deepening close relations between all of the peoples of these islands.

“President Higgins, Sabina and their royal highnesses spoke of the challenges ahead, including the implications of the UK’s departure from the European Union and the importance of continuing to build on the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement.

“They also discussed the global challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss and the urgent need to revisit the fundamentals of how we organise our economies and societies if we are to tackle these existential threats in a meaningful way.

“The importance of removing obstacles that inhibit young people from building their skills and realising their aspirations for a truly fair and sustainable world, and the particular importance of responding to the vulnerabilities of young people, was among the other topics discussed.”

After Britain’s 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU, the royal family have carried out a string of official visits to European countries, dubbed “Brexit diplomacy”.

William has also sought to visit parts of the world with troubled histories, from Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories to Pakistan, learning about the people and the issues they face.

Since the Queen’s 2011 visit the royal family – led by the Prince of Wales’s numerous trips across the Irish Sea – have sought to strengthen bonds with the people of Ireland.

When William and Kate arrived at the president’s home they were greeted by the statesman and his wife who said: “Delighted to welcome you. You’ve had lots of exciting things happening in your family.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex caused a royal crisis when they announced in January they wanted to step back into a dual role, supporting the Queen and earning their own money. But the plan was unworkable, and the couple are now dropping their HRH styles and stepping away from the monarchy for a life mostly in North America, from March 31.

Mr Higgins’s Bernese mountain dog Brod stole the show on Tuesday, bounding up to the royal guests as they stepped outside.

As Kate bent down to stroke him, she said: “He’s lovely, how old is he?”

She was told the president’s other dog Sioda – who is also usually on hand to greet visitors – was out of action with a sore paw.

The couple then went for a “tete-a-tete” in the president’s private office before sitting down for afternoon tea in the drawing room with Mr Higgins and his wife, the British ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett, the Irish ambassador to the UK, Adrian O’Neill, and the duke’s private secretary Simon Case.

The group enjoyed Irish-themed refreshments including Barry’s tea, shamrock shortbread, oat biscuits and lemon drizzle cake, made by the in-house chef.

PA