President Tony Tan goes to London ahead of historic state visit to the UK

LONDON - President Tony Tan Keng Yam will arrive in London on Monday, in the first state visit to the UK by a Singaporean head of state.

The six-day visit, which officially begins on Tuesday, will include an address to the British Parliament, and is expected to boost strong bilateral relations in the areas of economy, research, education and culture.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Sunday that it will "showcase our long-standing relations with the UK ahead of the 50th anniversary of UK-Singapore relations in 2015".

Britain receives only two state visits each year, and Dr Tan's is the second for 2014. Irish President Michale Higgins had been hosted in April.

On Tuesday, Dr Tan be given a full ceremonial welcome by Queen Elizabeth II at the famous Horse Guards Parade ground off Whitehall, the road leading to the Queen's official residence in London.

From there, they will continue in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace, where Dr Tan will stay for two nights until Thursday.

The Queen will host a private luncheon and a state banquet in his honour.

London's Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf will also host Dr Tan to a banquest at Guildhall, the City of London's administrative centre, while Prime Minister David Cameron will host him to lunch at 10 Downing Street, the home and office of British prime ministers.

Dr Tan will also meet the leaders of the main British political parties: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who heads the Liberal Democrats, and opposition leader Ed Miliband of the Labour Party.

Apart from these meetings, the President will lay a ceremonial wreath on the Grave of the Unknown Soldier - a monument dedicated to British soldiers who have fallen in war - at Westminster Abbey, and also meet with businessmen over a lunch hosted by British insurance giant Lloyd's.

After London, Dr Tan will head to the city of Bristol, where he will be hosted to lunch by the city's elected mayor George Ferguson.

There, he will drop by the University of Bristol as well as Aardman Animation Studios, known for its stop-motion films such as the Wallace and Gromit series.

The President will be accompanied by his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, during the visit.

Also with him will be Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu; Minister of State for National Development and Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman; and Members of Parliament Sitoh Yih Pin and Arthur Fong.

During Dr Tan's absence, the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, Mr J. Y. Pillay, will exercise the functions of the office of the President.