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The Duchess Shines in Jenny Packham, Lotus Flower Tiara and Glittering Diamonds at First State Banquet

This evening the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took part in their first state banquet at Buckingham Palace.Kate Middleton Tiara China State Banquet

The function honors the President of China, Xi Jinping, and his wife, Madame Peng. Below, William and Kate arriving at Buckingham Palace.

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.

Splash News

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 Royal Order of Splendor notes HM was wearing the Modern Sapphire Tiara tonight.

More from People:

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 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.

As always, the amount of preparation that goes into a function like tonight’s is mammoth. 

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.

Sgt Rupert Frere, RLC/©2015 Crown Copyright

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.

Sgt. Rupert Frere, RLC/©2015 Crown Copyright

President Xi and the Duke of Edinburgh inspect troops from the 1st battalion Grenadier Guard, accompanied by Major Benjamin Jesty.

Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC/©2015 Crown Copyright

HM officially welcomes the President of the People’s Republic of China to Horse Guards Parade.

The Army in London/Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC/©2015 Crown Copyright

Her Majesty was in a coat by Stewart Parvin and a hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan for the morning’s ceremony.

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.Dominic Lipinski/Pool/PA Wire

The color of the dress is a nod to the significance of red in 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, a satin belt or waistband, and a full skirt.

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 Middleton Lotus Flower Tiara

Kate wore two shimmering diamond bracelets this evening.

Splash News

Splash News

One is known as The Wedding Gift bracelet, our thanks to Sarah for that tip and Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault for the photo and information about the bracelet. (More here.) 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. This was an outstanding look for the Duchess.

Splash News

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.

Splash News

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 honoring 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.



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Saturday 9th of November 2019

Do we have any idea which shoes she wore?


Saturday 9th of November 2019

No, I'm sorry I do not.

Judy Pottins

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

Great website. Incredible photos. I am a believer!


Thursday 29th of October 2015

The clutch can be seen (if blurrily) in this picture:


Thursday 29th of October 2015

Thank you for this, it's an item I haven't been able to get back to, but hope to in the next week or so! :)


Saturday 24th of October 2015

I think that the color of her dress is a nice nod to China's flag color.The color suits her.She's wearing the perfect amount of jewellery for the occasion and speaking of beautiful is that tiara!


Thursday 22nd of October 2015

This may have been asked & answered: I noticed that in comments on the jewel related sites the significance of the Queen loaning Kate her Wedding Gift Bracelet for the event as it is a personal favorite and is often worn by the Queen on occasions. That said, have any other royal women been loaned that bracelet previously?

I've seemed to notice that with Kate and even other royals, the Queen loans jewelry (and bestows other gifts) that are sentimental in manner. Most of the jewelry Kate has been loaned has been previously owned/worn often by Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother, their home in KP was Princess Margaret's, etc . . . there's even some sentimentality/purpose with the Jewels that Sophie has been given or loaned, as well relating to her title or other reasons.

With Camilla, I don't see that. She does receive her fair share, but she also has purchased (has had purchased) a vast array of her own jewelry.

So it had me wondering if this was a loan of sentimental meaning. This is most certainly a bracelet that one would recal (both are, in fact) that they would make an impression if another royal lady had been loaned them. I'm not guessing that there are favorites, just that there is a sense of true family among them and that Kate is seen as an equally important member of the family as any other.

Any insight to my thoughts would be appreciated! They sure are stunners and I'll be looking for them on HM in the future!


Thursday 22nd of October 2015

Most items in the Queen's jewel collection have sentimental meaning because they are almost all inherited items. It would be hard to avoid the family connections. Of course the wedding bracelet is special so it does seem significant that she's loaned it. I don't think it has been loaned to anyone else before.

A lot of Camilla's jewellery was purchased for her by Charles. But she has been loaned many significant items by the Queen. The two tiaras she often wears were previously worn by the Queen Mother, as was her engagement ring.

As for the Kensington Palace apartment, there are only so many apartments available since a lot of KP is now a museum. I don't think there is any significance that Princess Margaret used to live there.

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