Irish President Michael D Higgins inspected the tribute to Irish soldiers which has been given pride of place in Windsor Castle.
On the second day of his historic state visit, he and his wife Sabina viewed the colours of the British Army regiments which were disbanded when Ireland gained its independence.
They were given pride of place in a stairway entrance to Windsor Palace in 1922 so everyone could see them, at the insistence of King George V.
The colours, which honour the service of Irish soldiers in the First World War and other times of battle have never been moved from their permanent setting – except when the 1992 Windsor fire threatened to destroy them.
“Needs must, we took them out,” the Duke of York, who is colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment, told president Higgins and his wife.
They have been held at Windsor since the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, when the six regiments of the British Army from its terrotory were disbanded.
In a message to all six regiments at the time, King George V said: “The colours are to be preserved and held in reverence at Windsor Castle as a perpetual record of your noble exploits in the field”.
The presidential couple looked over the colours of the Royal Irish Regiment (which had its origins in 1684 and was among those regiments disbanded in 1922), as well as the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, the Prince of Wales’ Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), and the Royal Munster Fusiliers.
The South Irish Horse did not have a colour.
There were roughly 58,000 Irish soldiers in the British Army at the start of the First World War, and more volunteered during the conflict. Tens of thousands were killed.
Later in the day, President Higgins met with Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street. Last night, the presidential couple attended a banquet at Guildhall given by the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation.