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HomeWomenKate Middleton at the South African president's state banquet

Kate Middleton at the South African president's state banquet

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The Princess of Wales dazzled in diamonds tonight as she attended the luxurious State Banquet held in honour of the visiting South African president.

Kate, 40, put her best fashion foot forward in a gem embellished white gown, paired with the Cambridge lover’s knot tiara, as she joined Prince William, King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla for the lavish occasion at Buckingham Palace, the first of its kind in three years.

Charles treated South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, whose state visit to the UK was in the planning before Queen Elizabeth II’s death, to a fine menu of stuffed Windsor pheasant and grilled brill with wild mushrooms tonight.

Mr Ramaphosa was greeted by more than 1,000 soldiers, 230 horses, seven military bands and two state coaches earlier today – before being an honoured guest at the State Banquet held by the King, Queen Consort and other members of the Royal Family.

The event offered a lavish menu of two mains: grilled brill with wild mushrooms, truffles and sorrel sauce or ballotine of Windsor Pheasant filled with artichokes, quince compote and port sauce.

It is a departure from the banquets of the late Queen Elizabeth II, who often favoured Balmoral venison or lamb from one of the other royal estates when hosting foreign dignitaries. 

The Princess of Wales dazzled in diamonds tonight as she attended the luxurious State Banquet held in honour of the visiting South African president

The Princess of Wales dazzled in diamonds tonight as she attended the luxurious State Banquet held in honour of the visiting South African president

The sides included a selection of assorted Chantenay carrots, kale with roasted butternut squash, braised fondant potatoes and salad. Iced Vanilla Parfait with Caramelised Apples or coffee and bite-sized confectionery were the options for dessert.

There are wines on offer to accompany the luxurious food, including a Château Feytit-Clinet, Pomerol 2000 that tastes of ‘melted liquorish, cherries and earth’, plus £75 Taylor’s Vintage Port 1983.

Others include Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs 2016, an English sparkling wine that goes at £60 a bottle, a £77 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, a Morgeot, Clos de la Chapelle, Domaine Duc de Magenta 2014 which goes for £61 and Château Rieussec 1er Grand Cru Classé Sauternes 2007 which is £55.

Yesterday the kitchens at Buckingham Palace also created the national flowers of South Africa, Protea, out of sugar and edible colouring, for the State Banquet. 

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.

The menu for State Visit of South African premier Cyril Ramaphosa

Le Menu

Filet de Barbue Gallieni

(Grilled Brill with Wild Mushrooms and Truffles, Sorrel Sauce)

. . .

Ballotine de Faisan aux Artichauts, Compote de Coings, Sauce au Porto

(Ballotine of Windsor Pheasant filled with Artichokes, Quince Compote and Port Sauce)

. . .

Panaché de Carottes de Chantenay

(Selection of assorted Chantenay Carrots)

Chou Frisé et Potiron Rôti

(Kale with Roasted Butternut Squash)

Pommes de Terre Fondantes

(Braised Fondant Potatoes)

Salade

. . .

Parfait de Vanille et Pommes Caramélisées

(Iced Vanilla Parfait with Caramelised Apples)

. . .

Café et Petit Fours

Les Vins

Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs 2016

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru

Morgeot, Clos de la Chapelle, Domaine Duc de Magenta 2014

Château Feytit-Clinet, Pomerol 2000

Château Rieussec 1er Grand Cru Classé Sauternes 2007

Taylor’s Vintage Port 1983

After the Banqueting table is put together, and the decorative display is delivered, unpacked and positioned in place, the final touches are added. Place setting are measured at exactly 45 centimetres apart.

Preparations in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace, meanwhile, begin as close to the event as possible — with every dish handmade from scratch.

Every element of the State Banquet is inspected, checked and approved by the monarch, who will also view the table in person before retiring to get dressed.

Around 170 guests are expected, requiring 1,700 pieces of cutlery all laid out using rulers to get the precise spacing measurements correct.

Earlier today Charles III laid on a Guard of Honour for the South African president before joining him in a golden carriage ride to Buckingham Palace as he held his first state visit as King.

William and Kate were part of events for the first time, travelling to a luxury hotel in central London to meet Cyril Ramaphosa and accompany him to Horse Guards Parade for the start of the ceremonial welcome.

There, the monarch and Queen Consort shook hands with the president at the Royal Pavilion ahead of the glamorous state banquet.

The South African national anthem played shortly after Mr Ramaphosa’s arrival, while the Guard of Honour gave a Royal Salute.

National figures had gathered in the royal pavilion for the pomp and pageantry of the ceremonial welcome with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined by senior members of the Cabinet, as well as the Lord Mayor of London, Nicholas Lyons, and the Defence Chiefs of Staff.

More than 1,000 soldiers and over 230 horses took part in the ceremonial event and waiting on the parade ground were two immaculate lines of Foot Guards from Number 7 Company The Coldstream Guards.

Nearby in their gleaming breast plates and plumed helmets were the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment – Life Guards and Blues and Royals, commanded by Major Robert Perera of the Blues and Royals.

Mr Ramaphosa then joined Charles and Camilla as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales for a carriage procession along The Mall. 

Upon reaching the Palace, they were met by a second Guard of Honour found by 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, while at the Tower of London, a 62-round gun salute was fired by the Honourable Artillery Company regiment to mark the President’s visit.

Following a private lunch at the Palace, the King invited Mr Ramaphosa to view an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.

The President then visited Westminster Abbey, where he will laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and took a tour, which included the memorial stone for Nelson Mandela, the South African President between 1994 and 1999.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, King Charles, Camilla,  Prince William, and Catherine attended the Ceremonial Welcome earlier today

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, King Charles, Camilla,  Prince William, and Catherine attended the Ceremonial Welcome earlier today

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, addresses MPs and peers in the Royal Gallery at the Palace of Westminster

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, addresses MPs and peers in the Royal Gallery at the Palace of Westminster 

A procession leading a state carriage containing Britain's King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa back to Buckingham Palace

A procession leading a state carriage containing Britain’s King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa back to Buckingham Palace

Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, William, Prince of Wales, King Charles III and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa view items displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace

Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, William, Prince of Wales, King Charles III and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa view items displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace

After that, Mr Ramaphosa went to the Palace of Westminster, where he was welcomed by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker, before delivering an address in the Royal Gallery to MPs and other guests.

After the private lunch at Buckingham Palace, in which they were joined by other members of the Royal Family, including the the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester.

The seemingly very jovial party was treated to a small exhibition of South African artefacts from the Royal Collection in the Picture Gallery.

It included a bowl given to the late Duke of Edinburgh to mark his attendance of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president in 1994 and a letter written by the Queen to welcome South Africa back into the Commonwealth after 33 years.

There was also a stunning chess set given to the duke by President Mandela when he visited London in 1996, the first by a South African head of state.

It features two tribes – the Zulus and the Ndebele – in place of the traditional black and white pieces. ‘This is rather wonderful,’ the King told the president proudly.

The State Carriage carrying Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa led by a mounted division of the Coldstream Guards makes its way along The Mall

The State Carriage carrying Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa led by a mounted division of the Coldstream Guards makes its way along The Mall

Catherine Princess of Wales during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa this afternoon

Catherine Princess of Wales during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa this afternoon

The Princess, who has worn the Collingwood earrings on a number of occasions in the past, also wore a brooch which was gifted to Diana from the Queen Mother

The Princess, who has worn the Collingwood earrings on a number of occasions in the past, also wore a brooch which was gifted to Diana from the Queen Mother 

William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales travel to Buckingham Palace during a state visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales travel to Buckingham Palace during a state visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, King Charles III and the Queen Consort, ride in the State Carriage to Buckingham Palace, London

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, King Charles III and the Queen Consort, ride in the State Carriage to Buckingham Palace, London

King Charles and The Queen Consort, Camilla, formally welcome the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured) at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade

King Charles and The Queen Consort, Camilla, formally welcome the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured) at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade

(left to right) The Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales as they inspect a Guard of Honour during the ceremonial welcome for President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa's State Visit to the UK

(left to right) The Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales as they inspect a Guard of Honour during the ceremonial welcome for President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa’s State Visit to the UK

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa rides with Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Camilla, Queen Consort in the Irish State Coach, as they leave from Horse Guards Parade, headed to Buckingham Palace

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa rides with Britain’s King Charles III and Britain’s Camilla, Queen Consort in the Irish State Coach, as they leave from Horse Guards Parade, headed to Buckingham Palace

The Princess of Wales was elegant in an Emilia Wickstead coat dress which she paired with a matching hat as she welcomed South Africa's President to the UK today

The Princess of Wales was elegant in an Emilia Wickstead coat dress which she paired with a matching hat as she welcomed South Africa’s President to the UK today

Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom and King Charles III travel in State Carriage to Buckingham Palace following the welcome ceremony for the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom and King Charles III travel in State Carriage to Buckingham Palace following the welcome ceremony for the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

The State Carriage carrying Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa led by a mounted division of the Coldstream Guards arrives at the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace

The State Carriage carrying Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa led by a mounted division of the Coldstream Guards arrives at the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace

The royal mother-of-three was elegant as she welcomed Mr Ramaphosa today, donning the smart burgundy coat dress with a matching Sean Barrett hat and a £495 Mulberry bag

The royal mother-of-three was elegant as she welcomed Mr Ramaphosa today, donning the smart burgundy coat dress with a matching Sean Barrett hat and a £495 Mulberry bag

Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa arrive at the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace during a state visit

Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa arrive at the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace during a state visit

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a photograph of President Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, displayed as part of the Royal Collection

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a photograph of President Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, displayed as part of the Royal Collection

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a a chess set, which was a gift from President Mandela to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996, displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a a chess set, which was a gift from President Mandela to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996, displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace

The royal mother-of-three was elegant as she welcomed Mr Ramaphosa today, donning the smart burgundy coat dress with a matching Sean Barrett hat and a Mulberry bag

The royal mother-of-three was elegant as she welcomed Mr Ramaphosa today, donning the smart burgundy coat dress with a matching Sean Barrett hat and a Mulberry bag

Britain's King Charles and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend a ceremonial welcome, during the President's state visit, at Horse Guards Parade

Britain’s King Charles and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend a ceremonial welcome, during the President’s state visit, at Horse Guards Parade

King Charles III during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa in London this afternoon

King Charles III during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa in London this afternoon

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, walks with King Charles III (not pictured) as they inspect a Guard of Honour

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, walks with King Charles III (not pictured) as they inspect a Guard of Honour

A photograph of the then Prince of Wales with President Mandela and the Spice Girls in South Africa in 1997 also caught the President’s eye. ‘Ah, there you are,’ he said with evident delight.

Many of the visiting delegation seemed particularly pleased to see pictures of the late Queen dotted around the exhibition. ‘I was there for that!’ exclaimed the South African foreign minister.

The late Queen had a particular affinity for the country after choosing it as the venue for her keynote 21st birthday speech in which she famously devoted her life to the service of others. 

Former President Donald Trump’s state visit in 2019 was the most recent by a world leader but his welcome was staged in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, so the official visit by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in 2019 was the last time a full ceremonial welcome was staged on Horse Guards Parade.

Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, Brigade Major of Headquarters Household Division, who delivered the military ceremonial spectacle, said: ‘The state visit is a historic first: our first state visit for His Majesty the King and the President of South Africa, the first state visit in London since 2019, the first processional state visit on Horse Guards since 2018, and the first for almost everyone on parade.’

He added: ‘A huge amount of work has gone into preparing for the visit and we are very proud to support such an important national occasion.’

President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa shakes hands with King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom

President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa shakes hands with King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a a chess set, which was a gift from President Mandela to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996, displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a a chess set, which was a gift from President Mandela to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996, displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace

King Charles III shakes hands with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Horse Guards Parade in London, ahead of the arrival of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa for a State Visit to the UK

King Charles III shakes hands with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Horse Guards Parade in London, ahead of the arrival of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa for a State Visit to the UK

Climate change, trade and Charles’s vision for the Commonwealth are expected to be on the agenda during Mr Ramaphosa’s two-day visit. 

South Africa is the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent with trade between both countries worth £10.7billion annually.

However, despite the wealth of pomp and pageantry on display, the visit risks being clouded by events in South Africa, where Ramaphosa risks impeachment for allegedly failing to report a major raid at his luxury farmhouse which saw raiders take £3.4million in cash.

It comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today announced the UK and South Africa will join forces to ‘turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together’.

The next phase of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership is being launched today, supporting South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure developments and offering increased access to UK companies to projects worth up to £5.37 billion over the next three years, said Downing Street.

Mr Sunak said: ‘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.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) is greeted by Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Camilla, Queen Consort

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) is greeted by Britain’s King Charles III and Britain’s Camilla, Queen Consort

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) walks with Britain's King Charles III as they inspect a Guard of Honour during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) walks with Britain’s King Charles III as they inspect a Guard of Honour during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade

(left to right) the Prince and Princess of Wales arrive as President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, King Charles III and the Queen Consort look on before they inspect a Guard of Honour during the ceremonial welcome for his State Visit to the UK

(left to right) the Prince and Princess of Wales arrive as President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, King Charles III and the Queen Consort look on before they inspect a Guard of Honour during the ceremonial welcome for his State Visit to the UK

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and Britain's King Charles III inspect a Guard of Honour, formed by Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards, during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and Britain’s King Charles III inspect a Guard of Honour, formed by Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards, during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London

Charles III has arrived at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade as he prepares to welcome South African president Cyril Ramaphosa for his first state visit as monarch

Charles III has arrived at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade as he prepares to welcome South African president Cyril Ramaphosa for his first state visit as monarch

Camilla, Queen Consort during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa

Camilla, Queen Consort during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa

The King and The Queen Consort formally welcome The President at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade

The King and The Queen Consort formally welcome The President at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during the ceremonial welcome for the State Visit to the UK by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during the ceremonial welcome for the State Visit to the UK by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (left) and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend the ceremonial welcome for the State Visit to the UK by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (left) and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend the ceremonial welcome for the State Visit to the UK by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman were also present for the event on Horse Guards Parade

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman were also present for the event on Horse Guards Parade

British Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman looks on during a state visit of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Houses of Parliament

British Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman looks on during a state visit of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Houses of Parliament

‘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.’

The two-day state visit will see a series of firsts for the royal family who will take part in events over the coming two days as they host their guest Mr Ramaphosa.

South Africa’s High Commissioner, Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo, hailed the importance of the state visit after speaking to the King a few weeks ago when Charles visited an exhibition of South African fashion in London.

Mr Mamabolo, who is expected to be among the state banquet guests, said: ‘The important thing is that the King has focused for his first visit, to be with Africa, South Africa, and the Commonwealth.’

Mr Ramaphosa was Jacob Zuma’s deputy in 2014 and gained the presidency in 2018. But he is currently fighting for his political life and facing calls to resign as the deeply divided ruling party African National Congress (ANC) is to hold a vote on its leadership in December.

A scandal in which Ramaphosa is accused of concealing a multi-million dollar cash theft has piled pressure on him. He faces an accusation that he failed to report a heist at his luxury cattle farmhouse in which robbers took $4million (£3.4m) in cash and instead organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.

The president has acknowledged a burglary but denies kidnapping and bribery, saying he reported the break-in to the police. A panel appointed by South Africa’s parliament is set to determine whether to impeach him.

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