11 SEPTEMBER 2003
Queen Elizabeth will soon be visiting France and Germany in an effort to heal divisions over the war in Iraq. Her Majesty will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on the tour, which is scheduled for early next year, and aims to reconcile Britain with its European neighbours.
Relations between the countries have been frosty ever since France and Germany opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, which was strongly supported by Britain. But the Foreign Office is hoping the Queen's visit will help patch up those differences as she meets with President Jacques Chirac in Paris.
The monarch will then move on to Berlin, where she is to be received by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
A historic trip to Ireland may also be on the cards later in the year. If the prime minister feels that the Northern Ireland peace process is progressing well, he is expected to give the green light for the Queen to visit the Emerald Isle. If the trip goes ahead, it will be the first time a British monarch has gone to the Republic in 93 years.