Hollywood stars, the political elite and the royal family sat either side of a long table decorated with flowers and candelabras in the splendour of Saint George’s Hall at Windsor Castle.
Daniel Day-Lewis and Dame Judi Dench, Irish rugby hero Brian O’Driscoll and his actress wife Amy Huberman, hat designer Philip Treacy, sculptor Sir Antony Gormley, and Sir Terry Wogan were welcomed to the Queen’s home.
The Irish song Molly Malone was played as the royal procession made its way into the room.
After speeches by the Queen and President Higgins, guests tucked into fillet of Isle of Gigha halibut with young leeks and fine herb sauce.
For the main course they ate tornadoes of Windsor estate beef with wild mushrooms and water cress puree, served with purple sprouting broccoli and sauce hollandaise, baked onions stuffed with parmesan and bulghar wheat
For dessert guests were served vanilla ice-cream bombe with Balmoral redcurrant centre.
The long polished table - surrounded by 160 guests - was decorated with candelabras and flowers, including green Bells of Ireland, and other flowers with shades of orange and white to represent the Ireland’s national colours.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness was seated next to President of the Royal Society Sir Paul Nurse and Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti.
The Queen was to the left of President Higgins and the Duchess of Cornwall was on his right hand side.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband were also in attendance, along with the Foreign Secretary William Hague, First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.
Other members of the royal family at the banquet included the Prince of Wales who sat next to President Higgins’ wife Sabina, and the Duke of Edinburgh on her other side.
Former Irish President Mary McAleese was also at the banquet.
President Higgins was given a pair of photographs of the Queen and the Duke, as well as a copy of Dubliners by James Joyce, which had been specially bound and boxed by the Windsor bindery.
Mrs Higgins was given a small silver engine-turned box with gold cypher, by William & Son.