It is perhaps the most anticipated part of any State Visit to the UK—the glittering State Banquet at Buckingham Palace. And this evening King Charles played host for the first time as Britain rolled out the red carpet for South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Following an official ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade earlier in the day, the President was treated to a formal banquet in the Buckingham Palace ballroom from 8 p.m. The royals and their guests dressed in gowns and jewels and took their seats at the horseshoe-shaped table for the occasion.
Just as his late mother did, King Charles presided over every detail of the banquet, from the seating plan to the menu. He and Camilla personally inspected the table ahead of the evening. It was set with items from the Grand Service, which was commissioned by King George IV and includes more than 4,000 pieces. Floral arrangements in pink, red and purple were made out of wildflowers from the royal estates including rosehips, hydrangea and chrysanthemum blooms. A video posted online by the royal family showed the King and Queen Consort looking at the table, with Camilla reaching out to touch one of the floral arrangements.
As well as members of the royal family, the President and his entourage, the approximately 160 State Banquet guests included dignitaries and notable people from the UK and South Africa. They were treated to a three course menu starting with grilled brill with wild mushrooms, truffles and sorrel sauce. This was followed by ballotine of Windsor pheasant filled with artichokes with quince compote and port sauce served with vegetables and fondant potatoes. Dessert was iced vanilla parfait with caramelized apples.
President Ramaphosa sat between the King and Princess of Wales.
Buckingham Palace notes that it takes around five days to build the table for the state banquet. Each guest is given 18 inches for their place setting and six glasses as well as a champagne glass for the toast.
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