Tonight, Queen Elizabeth II hosted a state banquet in the honour of Netherlands King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima during their 2 days state visit to the UK.
As we all were expecting Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in attendance at the banquet. Earlier in the day, among the rumours that whether they will be attending or not, a picture of William and Catherine arriving at Kensington Palace with Prince Louis emerged. A small video of William and Catherine arriving at Kensington Palace was shared by @spenclaire on Instagram.
Duchess’ first solo foreign visit was to the Netherlands in 2016, where she met King Willem-Alexander.
Mark Steward shared the photos of William and Catherin’s heading towards Buckingham Palace earlier.
The State Banquet is a white-tie event that means a night of stunning gowns and dazzling royal jewels. And the royals did not disappoint us tonight. Queen Elizabeth accompanied by Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall stood with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima for the official photograph in the Music Room prior to the state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Queen Elizabeth wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara and Camilla chose the Greville tiara.
As it was expected the stylish Dutch Queen definitely brought the big guns when it came to royal jewels. She wore the stunning Stuart tiara with a beautiful double shaded grey-blue gown with a net cape.
This was Queen Elizabeth’s second state banquet for Dutch royals. She hosted the first banquet for Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus in November 1982.
Organizing a State banquet involves lots of planning and at the state banquet itself, the attendees follow lots of protocols. The official website of Royal family explains, “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 Chefs in The Royal Kitchens at Buckingham Palace had been busy preparing for the State Banquet today. They created 280 slices of a delicious chocolate orange torte. The Royal Pastry Chefs have created a ‘Torte au Chocolat Amer et Madarines Crème au Café,’ especially for the occasion. Pastry Chef Selwyn Stoby revealed some of the early stages of the torte design.
The creme au cafe features different layers of flavours including a thin chocolate base, a chocolate sponge, and a rich filling of orange chocolate mousse. Selwyn and his team then layered a ribbon of vibrant marmalade on top of the mousse. Every part of the torte has been produced in the Kitchens of Buckingham Palace, by Selwyn and three other Royal Household pastry chefs.
For today’s lunch, the pastry chefs created a ‘parfait aux Pommes et mûres.’ The design includes ‘Apple pearl balls’, miniature meringue balls and apple stock syrup. Each parfait is carefully cased in white chocolate to contrast to the bitter blackberry sauce. More about State Banquet Kitchen preparations can be found here.
The banquet was attended by many members of the royal family. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall accompanied guests to the Ballroom for the State Banquet.
Both Queen Elizabeth and King Willem-Alexander gave formal speeches at the Banquet. King Willem in his speech delightfully described Queen as, “most fearless Bond girl ever”, referring to her 2012 London Olympic entrance. The full speeches can be found here.
Duchess chose an ice-blue mermaid Alexander McQueen gown for the event. The gown has divided opinion on social media. Duchess’s gown has a similar shade of the gown, designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, Queen Elizabeth wore 1958 at the State Banquet hosted by Netherlands King and Queen during her state visit.
Catherine’s gown has cap sleeves and asymmetric neckline with a rose detail on the right shoulder. The gown was a romantic mesh of vintage and contemporary design with a mermaid skirt.
As expected, Duchess chose Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara, commonly known Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara (although they both are different tiaras), for the night. The tiara was Lady Diana’s signature tiara as she was seen wearing it many times. Made in 1913 for Queen Mary featuring 19 baroque pearl pendants, the tiara has become the sort of Duchess’ go-to tiara now, as she wore it on consecutive 4 royal events during 2016 and 2017. More about this tiara can be found here at the Order of Splendor.
Catherine paired the tiara with Diana’s Collingwood pearl earrings. Princess Diana of Wales used to pair both lover’s knot tiara and Collingwood earrings often.
The highlight of the night was a beautiful necklace from the royal vault that Catherine has worn for the first time. She wore Queen Alexandra’s Wedding pearl and diamond necklace. The necklace features 8 pearls surrounded by diamonds, each connected with festoons of diamonds, and three detachable diamond and pearl drop pendants. Queen Mary gave the necklace to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and she wore it constantly. The necklace was finally reunited with the brooch and earrings when The Queen inherited it in 2002.
It last seen in 1983, worn by Queen Mother at the state banquet coincidentally hosted by Queen Elizabeth II for the Netherlands King and Queen. Read more about the necklace at Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault here.
The most talked-about element of Duchess’s today’s look was her Royal Order. She wore the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II. A nod to Prince William’s anti-ivory campaign, Catherine’s Royal Family Order is made of glass instead of traditional ivory. Today it was reported that Catherine was presented with the traditional RFO in 2017 and she also wore it during the 2017 December Diplomatic Reception.
The order, containing a portrait of the Monarch set in diamonds that is suspended from a ribbon, is awarded by the Monarch to the female members of the royal family as a substitute of commemorative medals royal men wear. Princess Diana received the royal order 1981, Countess of Wessex was presented with her royal family order in 2004 while Duchess of Cornwall received in 2007.
Catherine was also seen wearing a diamond bracelet on her right hand. Due to the lack of clear pictures, it was difficult to identify whether it is a new piece or something Duchess has worn in past too. She carried a box clutch with stone embellishments on it. The shape of the clutch is pretty similar to her Purple Jenny Packham Clutch that she carried in July 2017 when she visited the National History Museum.
I believe after tonight Catherine will be returning to Anmer Hall where Prince George and Princess Charlotte are spending their mid-term break and will be back on Sunday with all kids before her next engagement. On Tuesday she will be visiting Coach Core in Essex with Prince William.