Prince Albert II of Monaco and his fiancée Charlene Wittstock today began a three-day State visit to Ireland.

The royal and his bride-to-be Charlene Wittstock began by visiting President Mary McAleese.

The Prince planted an Irish oak in the garden of the Áras before he left the President's home for the Garden of Remembrance paying homage to those who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

Troops from the 87th Cadet Class formed a guard of honour as Prince Albert slowly stepped forward to arrange a ribbon on a large wreath laid in memory of the dead by two soldiers.

Prince Albert II then left for a meeting with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings and his fiancee went to a private event at the Writer's Museum in Parnell Square.

Flanked by heavy security, the couple walked from the National Museum on Kildare Street to the historic Shelbourne Hotel, where a Princess Grace suite is named after his late mother who stayed there on her State visit.

Shaking hands with well-wishers along the way, the prince took time to talk about trade links between Monaco and Ireland.

When questioned whether he had any tips for the new Taoiseach, he answered 'I'm not really a good economist myself but we have talked about it and I really wish the Government the best of success through these difficult times.'

Later at a State dinner in Áras an Uachtaráin, the prince said that the welcome they have received made the trip feel 'more like a homecoming than a State visit.'

The Prince has said that he hopes his state visit will further consolidate the ties between Ireland and Monaco.

The couple are to visit Trinity College, City Hall, Custom House and Farmleigh House tomorrow.

Government officials have said that the visit will reflect the long-standing ties between Ireland and Monaco and underline the potential for future co-operation in business, environment, research, education, tourism and culture

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The couple's trip takes place 50 years after the visit of Albert's parents, Prince Rainier and Hollywood actress Princess Grace.