This evening the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took part in their first state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
The function honors the President of China, Xi Jinping, and his wife, Madame Peng. Below, William and Kate arriving at Buckingham Palace.
And the Duchess walking into the Palace ballroom, accompanied by Wang Huning, a leader of China’s Communist Party.
Guests stand for the national anthem, as seen in this screen grab from The Telegraph’s live coverage of the event.
From The Telegraph’s story:
Four-and-a-half years after she became an HRH, Kate made her first appearance at what is considered a staple royal duty – dining in the opulent palace ballroom with 170 guests in honour of a visiting president.
It was also the Duke of Cambridge’s first state banquet in the UK.
More on Her Majesty’s gown from Hello! Canada:
The monarch, resplendant in a white tulle banquet dress embroidered with white and silver beads and diamanté sequins by Angela Kelly, made a speech welcoming the guests of honour.
The diamond and sapphire tiara was commissioned by the monarch in either the 1950s/60S to be worn with the necklace of sapphires and diamonds she paired it with last night, a Buckingham Palace source tells PEOPLE. The necklace, which was made in 1850, was a wedding gift from her father, King George VI. The Queen has worn this “suite” of jewelry many times over the years.
We return to The Telegraph’s story for more on Kate’s position at the table:
She was seated in the most prominent position for a female member of the royal family after the Queen – on the President’s right while the monarch, as is custom, sat on Mr Xi’s left.
It was a magnificent scene at Buckingham Palace. From left to right you see the Duchess, president Xi, Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh, Madame Peng and Prince William.
A closer look at Madame Peng and Prince William in this BBC screen grab via The Daily Mail.
From People magazine’s story about tonight’s dinner:
The magnificent ballroom had been decked out in splendid royal style for the 130 guests, including floral arrangements of white roses, pink carnations and clematis that originated in China. Among the blooms was a Sophie, Countess of Wessex clematis variety – her husband, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, was among the guests.
The menu for tonight’s dinner.
That translates into filet or turbot, venison from Balmoral, timbale of celeriac and butternut squash. Below, Palace preparations for the evening’s meal.
As always, the amount of preparation that goes into a function like tonight’s is mammoth. HM inspecting the evening’s floral arrangements. (No pressure here.)
And other elements of the evening’s plan.
Prince William had seen President Xi earlier in the day, meeting with him at Buckingham Palace. This is William’s second meeting with the President, you may recall the Duke visited China in March of this year.
The sun was shining on the Mall for the official welcome of President of The People’s Republic of China and Madame Peng Liyuan, an event heralded with the pomp and pageantry associated with a state visit. Below you see the Band of the Household Cavalry, part of the morning’s ceremonies.
HM, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Prime Minister, Senior members of the Cabinet, the Lord Mayor of London, the Mayor of London, and Defence Chiefs of Staff welcome President Xi and Madame Peng.
President Xi and the Duke of Edinburgh inspect troops from the 1st battalion Grenadier Guard, accompanied by Major Benjamin Jesty.
HM officially welcomes the President of the People’s Republic of China to Horse Guards Parade.
A brief video of President Xi and HM exiting the Diamond Jubilee State Coach.
Following the official welcome President Xi delivered an address to Parliament. There was a formal lunch at Buckingham Palace, and later the president joined Prince Charles and Camilla for tea at Clarence House.
On now to what Kate wore for her first state banquet at Buckingham Palace. The Duchess was in a rich red Jenny Packham design, a bespoke piece created for tonight’s dinner.
The color of the dress is a nod to the significance of red in the Chinese culture, symbolizing joy and good fortune. Of course, red is also the color of the Chinese flag. The gown features cap sleeves, what looks like a sequin and lace bodice, satin belt or waistband and a full skirt.
Patricia Aviero suggested Kate’s dress has elements of the frock below from the autumn/winter pre-collection. There are also elements in the bodice (not the skirt) that are akin to the dress below right, a gown from the the new collection Jenny Packham has done for Davids Bridal.
As many expected, Kate wore the Lotus Flower tiara, also called the Papyrus tiara. For tonight’s purposes we will go with Lotus Flower.
One reason this was an ideal choice for Kate is the importance of the Lotus flower in Chinese culture and history. More From China Culture:
Untouched by any impurities, the lotus symbolizes purity of the heart and mind and represents long life, humility, honor and tranquility.
The China Culture site lists multiple meanings the flower symbolizes: beauty, love, and harmony. The lotus also has deep Buddhist connotations, more from Shaolin Temple:
In Buddhism the lotus flower symbolizes faithfulness. The golden lotus that is mentioned in Buddhist sutras has two meanings; one is the symbol for the achievement of enlightenment and the other points towards a real flower which is beyond our normal perception. It is also symbolizes the complete purification of the defilements of the body, speech and mind, and the full blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation.
The first person to wear the tiara was the Queen Mother, she had the tiara made from a necklace that was a wedding gift given to her by the future King George VI.
This is the second time the Duchess has worn the tiara, the previous occasion was the Queen’s diplomatic reception in 2013.
Kate wore two shimmering diamond bracelets this evening.
The Royal Order of Splendor has more on the bracelet in this post.
The Royal Order of Splendor tweeted that it looks like the other bracelet is actually a necklace that was converted into a bracelet. Below, you see Queen Mary, circa 1920, wearing the necklace before it was converted to a bracelet.
This was an outstanding look for the Duchess.
Not only did the dress look terrific on her, she seemed as relaxed as one might be at a function of this significance, at ease in her environment.
Christin (@PackhamGown) on Twitter noticed that Kate had a red clutch, we haven’t yet found a photo of the bag.
We’ll see you tomorrow morning for the creative industries event at Lancaster House.
- As others have pointed out, Kate was not wearing a royal order this evening. You may recall reports (also referenced in this space, I might add) that Kate was being given the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.
- Madame Peng not wearing gloves is probably *not* a faux-pas in my opinion. From The Daily Mail’s coverage:”The dress code, which is outlined on the invitations, is evening dress (white tie), decorations, full ceremonial evening dress for serving officers, or national dress. It is intended as guidance, so guests are aware of what others will be wearing, and on occasion, some have worn black-tie instead.” Others may have better information and experience in this are than I, additional comments are always welcome.
- In an article from the Chicago Tribune the response in that country to Kate’s red dress was very positive: “When the Duchess of Cambridge wore a bright red dress to the state banquet honouring Chinese President Xi Jinping in London this week, China’s press went to town. ‘Kate is wearing Chinese red to greet the President and his wife,” trumpeted a headline in the state-owned China Daily newspaper…’”
NOTE: In posts last week I referenced a post showcasing possible designers with Chinese links that Kate might have chosen to create a gown. Unfortunately events conspired to make that impossible, I apologize.
- The Telegraph’s live coverage of the state visit may be followed here
- The British Monarchy’s Storify blog may be seen here
- The Royal Order of Splendor’s post on the Lotus Flower/Papyrus tiara is here
- The Court Jeweller’s post on the tiara is here
- The Tiaras and Trianon post on the tiara is here
- The Daily Mail’s story about the banquet is here, its piece on the history of Kate’s tiara is here
- The Telegraph’s story is here, The Mirror’s story is here and The Daily Express story is here
- PopSugar’s story and oversized photos may be seen here,
- For a 30-minute video of the dinner, click here or on the video below for the CCTV (China Central TV) coverage