Showing posts with label royal state banquet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label royal state banquet. Show all posts

Monday, 3 June 2019

It's Sapphires, Regalia & the Lover's Knot Tiara for the State Banquet

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended tonight's glamorous State banquet at Buckingham Palace in honour of the US State visit.

The white-tie event coincided with the Cambridges return to London following a week at their Norfolk country home, Anmer Hall. George and Charlotte were on a break from Thomas's Battersea and Willcocks Nursery. Speaking of the little ones, Kensington Palace confirmed Charlotte will join her big brother at Thomas's in September.

The Duchess entered the ballroom with United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin.

State visits are formal visits to the UK by heads of state from overseas, with the aim of strengthening Britain's relationships with other countries. There are usually two incoming State visits each year. Invitations are sent on the advice of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Tonight marks the Cambridges' fourth appearance at a State banquet. In 2015, they were very much involved in the Chinese State visit, and in 2017 they attend the Spanish State banquet; last October they attended in honour of the Dutch visit.

Prince William arriving with Prime Minister Theresa May.

A video of the royal procession. According to reporters, the woman Kate shakes hands with is Louise Linton, the wife of Steven Mnuchin.

Yesterday marked sixty-six years since Her Majesty's coronation. During the Queen's reign there have been twelve US presidents, and she has met with every one of them apart from Lyndon Johnson. In addition Her Majesty met with Harry Truman before she became Queen and Herbert Hoover when he was a former president. Throughout her reign, the Queen has visited presidents in the US and welcomed them to Buckingham Palace for State visits. The State banquet is one of the most formal royal events on the calendar. Below HM entering with President Trump and Prince Charles with the First Lady.

Elegant white gowns took centre stage on the fashion front tonight. The Queen wore an evening gown with crystal centred daisies by Angela Kelly with her Burmese ruby and diamond tiara and accompanying ruby and diamond jewels. The Duchess of Cornwall wore a cream embroidered Bruce Oldfield gown with the diamond Boucheron tiara and a pearl and rose topaz choker. The First Lady sported a sleeveless ivory Dior gown with long gloves.

When it comes to State banquets, courtiers ensure the evening is a success thanks to months of meticulous planning.

According to the Royal family's website: "Preparations for a State banquet begin well over a year in advance, but the final build of the State banquet table starts around five days ahead of the arrival of the visiting Head of State. The operational arm of Buckingham Palace, the Master of the Household’s department take the main bulk of the responsibility for ensuring the Banquet runs according to plan."

Royal florists at work.

The completed table features stunning flower decorations, candelabra and six glasses per person -water, red and white wines, a dessert wine, port and a champagne toast. Nineteen stations are set up around the table, each manned by four staff - a page, footman, under butler and a wine butler - who use a traffic light system to co-ordinate the serving of courses. After the banqueting table is put together, and the decorative display is delivered, unpacked and positioned in place, the final touches are added. Below, the ballroom ahead of the arrival of 170 guests.

Before the evening, Kate and other royals would have received notes on where they were sitting. In order to avoid uncomfortable situations and to ensure all are included in conversation, one speaks to the person on the left for the first course, changing to the right for the second, and alternating for remaining courses.

In a rare insight into banquets, the Countess of Wessex recalled during an interview for the ITV documentary Our Queen at Ninety one occasion when she couldn't find her seat as the Queen was about to make her speech: "I shan't forget the look I got when I couldn't find my chair and she was looking to do her speech, I decided I might study the notes a little more carefully next time." Below, Sophie tonight. Ella Kay notes it appears her wedding tiara has been reshaped.

A closer look at Princess Anne's tiara.

During a speech the Queen spoke of the mutual beliefs of the UK and the US:

'Mr President, I am delighted to welcome you and Mrs Trump to Buckingham Palace this evening, just twelve months after our first meeting at Windsor Castle. Visits by American Presidents always remind us of the close and longstanding friendship between the United Kingdom and the United States, and I am so glad that we have another opportunity to demonstrate the immense importance that both our countries attach to our relationship. 
In the coming days, you will see some of our most treasured historical buildings, speak to the business leaders whose expertise and innovation drive our economies, and meet members of our Armed Services, past and present. You will also travel to Portsmouth and Normandy to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. 
On that day – and on many occasions since – the Armed Forces of both our countries fought side-by-side to defend our cherished values of liberty and democracy. Mr President, in your State of the Union Address this year, you paid tribute to some of the American heroes who risked their lives, and we owe an immeasurable debt to the British, American and Allied soldiers who began the liberation of Europe on 6th June 1944. 
I paid my first State Visit to your country at the invitation of President Eisenhower. As Supreme Allied Commander, he had ultimate responsibility for the execution of the Normandy landings. In his headquarters in St James’s Square – not far from Buckingham Palace – British and American officers worked closely together to plan the freedom of a continent, and it would be no exaggeration to say that millions of lives depended on their common endeavour.
As we face the new challenges of the Twenty First Century, the anniversary of D-Day reminds us of all that our countries have achieved together. After the shared sacrifices of the Second World War, Britain and the United States worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions, to ensure that the horrors of conflict would never be repeated. While the world has changed, we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures: nations working together to safeguard a hard won peace. 
Of course, it is not only our security which unites us; but our strong cultural links and shared heritage. Every year, there are almost four million visits by Americans to the United Kingdom, with a great number claiming British descent. And with your own Scottish ancestry, Mr President, you too have a particular connection to this country. 
We are also bound by the strength and breadth of our economic ties, as the largest investors in each other’s economies. British companies in the United States employ over one million Americans, and the same is true vice versa. 
Mr President, as we look to the future, I am confident that our common values and shared interests will continue to unite us. Tonight we celebrate an alliance that has helped to ensure the safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades, and which I believe will endure for many years to come.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you all to rise and drink a toast to President and Mrs Trump, to the continued friendship between our two nations, and to the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States.'

The video below contains footage of the speeches.

Guests dined on steamed fillet of halibut with watercress mousse, asparagus spears and chervil sauce. Saddle of new season Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, spring vegetables and port sauce. Also strawberry sable, lemon verbena cream and assorted fresh fruits. Finally, coffee and petit fours were served. The wine list included sparkling wine from Windsor Great Park and 1990 Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

Emily Nash shared more on music for the event.

An overview.

The Duchess chose a bespoke Alexander McQueen ruffled gown with a v neckline and short sleeves for the evening. As noted earlier in the post, the royal ladies opted for white on the night. In fact, Her Majesty and the Duchess of Cornwall usually do for white-tie events. With the deep blue sash, the vibrant yellow of the Royal Family Order and jewels, a classic white gown is a very reliable choice for white-tie outings. I imagine we'll see Kate choosing white/cream shades increasingly moving forward.

It was a night of regal sparkle with the Duchess donning the Lover's Knot tiara. It has very much become Kate's signature piece in recent years. It's breathtaking and we'll likely see it throughout her life. When Kate becomes Princess of Wales I anticipate she will alternate it with several others. Until then, whilst we may see others like the Lotus Flower tiara, the Lover's Knot is clearly Kate's favourite.

A refresher on the history of the tiara: it was commissioned from Garrard in 1913/1914 by Queen Mary, Queen Consort of King George V, using jewels she already had in her possession. Mary wanted to have a tiara created based on the design of her maternal godmother Princess Augusta of Hesse's Duchess of Cambridge's 'Lover's Knot Tiara', whence comes the name. The original was a striking piece, and back then, lover's knot bows were very popular, so there were several similar ones made. The tiara features elements of the Gothic Revival style. The circle of the Cambridge Lover's Knot is made up of a lower semi-circular band, set with a row of brilliant cut diamonds. Where two adjacent arches meet, a pillar like structure is formed that rises up and ends in a round diamond, forming a diamond spike. There are nineteen diamond spikes of this nature and the size gradually decreases from the centre towards both ends.

In 1981, the day before Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, Her Majesty gave her soon-to-be daughter-in-law a red leather box, and inside lay the tiara. According to various media outlets young Diana exclaimed, "I have Brenda's rocks", referring to a nickname the British press had given the Queen. The Cambridge Lover's Knot became her signature, however, the princess found it quite heavy and headache-inducing - reportedly the reason she wore her family's Spencer Tiara quite often. Following Charles and Diana's divorced in 1996 the tiara was returned to the Queen, and it was widely believed it would remain in the royal vaults unseen for years if not decades. Thankfully that was not the case, and it's been in Kate's rotation since 2015.

The Duchess wore the Queen's Royal Family Order. We will see it for each and every white-tie occasion Kate attends. The Order is awarded by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom to female members of the Royal family as they typically do not wear the commemorative medals men do. The order is a personal memento rather than a State decoration. The badge of the order consists of a portrait of the Sovereign set in diamonds, which is suspended from a ribbon. The ribbon of each Royal Family Order changes with each monarch. Her Majesty presented Kate with the Order in 2017; it's made of glass.

There was a notable addition to Kate's look tonight; her GCVO regalia.

At the Buckingham Palace garden party a fortnight ago, the Queen invested Kate with the Insignia of a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. Like the Royal Family Order, the blue sash with red and white trim and the star of the order will be worn at white-tie occasions throughout Kate's life. As you can see, Kate wore an acorn brooch on her sash.

The RVO was established in 1896 by Queen Victoria. It recognises personal service to the monarch. 

More on the history of the order: "Prior to the close of the 19th century, most general honours within the British Empire were bestowed by the sovereign on the advice of her British ministers, who sometimes forwarded advice from ministers of the Crown in the Dominions and colonies (appointments to the then most senior orders of chivalry, the Most Noble Order of the Garter and the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, had been made on ministerial advice since the 18th century and were not restored to the personal gift of the sovereign until 1946 and 1947, respectively. Queen Victoria thus established on 21 April 1896 the Royal Victorian Order as a junior and personal order of knighthood that allowed her to bestow directly to an empire-wide community honours for personal services. The organisation was founded a year preceding Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, so as to give the Queen time to complete a list of first inductees. The order's official day was made 20 June of each year, marking the anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne."

The Duchess complemented her sash and engagement ring with the Queen Mother's sapphire and diamond fringe earrings. Readers will recall the Duchess first wore them for the 100 Women in Hedge Funds gala in 2015.

The look was completed with a four strand pearl bracelet and a white clutch. Franck suggests the bracelet was worn by Princess Diana at a state dinner in the Netherlands in 1982. Click here to view a photo.

In other news, we have a number of calendar staples coming up and a day of engagements in Cumbria for the Cambridges next week.

8 June - We'll see the Cambridge family for Trooping the Colour. It's very possible Louis will make his first appearance, and perhaps we'll see George and Charlotte travel in the carriage?
11 June - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will travel to Cumbria to celebrate the resilience and spirit of rural and farming communities in the region. The day will begin in Keswick where they will join a celebration with locals contributing to the community. After a walkabout in Market Square, the couple will visit a traditional fell sheep farm where they will get involved in sheep shearing.
17 June - We expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for Order of the Garter ceremonies at Windsor. It's understood it will be a very regal affair with Queen Letizia and Queen Maxima expected with their husbands.
18-22 June - It's very likely we'll see the Cambridges attend one day of Royal Ascot. The Duke of Cambridge Stakes is on Wednesday 19th.

There are several important D-Day 75 commemoration events taking place later this week. I imagine there's an embargoed appearance scheduled for William and Kate at one. The full list of events is available here.

Admin Note: A friendly reminder on the comment policy tonight. I understand this visit is an emotive one, fraught with controversy and divisiveness. In the hopes of keeping the comment section civil and focused on the Cambridges, I won't be publishing any political comments. Thank you for your understanding. 

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