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Kate and William follow strict royal custom by sitting exactly 45cm apart at state banquet


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The lavish event took place in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace where a traditional horseshoe-shaped table is laid out with silver cutely handed down from King George IV. Preparations for such an important royal event begin over a year in advance, and the work for the South African state visit began during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but it was reported that King Charles was delighted to continue with his mother’s plans.

Place settings at a state banquet are exactly 45 centimetres apart and precise measurements are very important for the occasion so that every table piece is correctly aligned.

Around 170 guests attended the event, which required 1,700 pieces of cutlery to be laid out using rulers to get the measurements correct.

Each person is given six glasses for water, red and white wine, dessert wine, champagne and port.

All guests also have placed in front of them two knives and forks, plus dessert cutlery, and a knife and plate for butter.

Every part of the complicated planning is inspected by the reigning monarch who has to approve of the table setting before going to get dressed.

It is expected that guests are treated to the best of British food at a state banquet, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was treated to stuffed Windsor pheasant and grilled brill with wild mushrooms.

It is different from what was usually served during Queen Elizabeth’s banquets, as the late monarch often favoured venison or lamb from Balmoral, her holiday home in Scotland.

Food for such an event is prepared as closely to the event as possible and every dish is handmade from scratch.

Wines offered included a Château Feytit-Clinet, Pomerol 2000 from France which tastes of “melted liquorish, cherries and earth”.

The royal chefs also surprised with a tasty dessert of South Africa’s national flower, the bright red-orange Protea, made entirely out of sugar and editable colouring.

READ MORE: Royals dazzle at stunning state banquet for King Charles and President

Kate Middleton and Prince William arrived for the occasion dressed in their best, as Kate wore her favourite tiara, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot, which was a wedding gift to Princess Diana and also wore diamond earrings which also belonged to the late Princess of Wales.

It was the first time the royal pair were part of such an important diplomatic event, and they initially travelled to central London to the hotel where President Cyril Ramaphosa was staying to accompany him to the Horse Guards Parade to start the welcoming ceremony.

Due to work being done at Buckingham Palace, the South African leader could not stay overnight at the royal home which is usually custom.

Other important people at the event were Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said in a statement: “South Africa is already the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together.

“I look forward to welcoming President Ramaphosa to London this week to discuss how we can deepen the partnership between our two great nations and capitalise on shared opportunities, from trade and tourism and security and defence.”

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After the ceremony and private lunch. King Charles gave President Cyril Ramaphosa a tour of the Picture Gallery which contained items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.

The two came across a photo of King Charles taken in South Africa with the Spice Girls, which later apparently amused Prine Willaim who commented with a grin: “My father in South Africa – the Spice Girls.”

It was also reported that President Ramaphosa picked up a photograph of Queen Elizabeth during the tour, which featured the late monarch with former South African president Nelson Mandela, and said “This is a lovely picture”.

To which King Charles replied: “You were lucky to have known both.”


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