The First Minister has said that it is a sign of the times that details of the Queen’s visit to the Province has been announced in advance.
Peter Robinson, who is due to meet Her Majesty when she arrives today, said the latest visit – her 21st – is a “great honour” for the Province.
In a statement ahead of the her and Prince Philip’s three-day trip, the DUP leader said: “Her Majesty The Queen is held with great affection throughout Northern Ireland.
“As soon as the announcement was made my mind turned to the spectacular scenes in Stormont Estate in 2012.
“No-one will ever forget that Royal occasion.
“It is a sign of changed times that the logistics of this visit could be announced before Her Majesty The Queen’s arrival. There was a time when a Royal visit could not be reported in advance due to security concerns”.
He said he was hopeful many will have the chance to meet her in person, and to “express their gratitude for the wonderful leadership she has shown throughout her reign”.
Mr Robinson and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will be at Hillsborough Castle this evening for a private audience with the Queen.
It will be the third time the Queen and former IRA commander Mr McGuinness have met.
During the three-day visit, one of the engagements will see Mr McGuinness accompany the Royal couple on a tour of the old Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast – a facility the politician was detained in himself during the Troubles.