There has been a royal welcome for the President of China and his wife as they officially begin their State Visit to the United Kingdom. The Queen formally welcomed President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan at Horse Guards Parade this morning.
The Chinese President and his wife arrived in London last night and stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, Just before noon today, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall met them at the hotel before accompanying them to Horse Guards for a ceremonial welcome by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.
There were handshakes and then the Duke of Edinburgh and President Xi inspected a Guard of Honour formed by the 1st Batallion Grenadier Guards on Horse Guards Parade. The traditional carriage parade then began with The Queen and the Chinese President using the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and the Duke of Edinburgh and Madame Peng riding in the Australian State Coach. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall travelled in the Scottish State Coach.
This State Visit has been highly anticipated and is the first by a Chinese leader since 2005. Officials in China and Britain have called it the beginning of a ‘golden era’ of relations between the two countries. But political talks during the four day visit are also expected to touch on the impact of cheap Chinese steel which has been blamed by some industry experts for collapsing prices and job cuts.
And there is more controversy as the traditional State Dinner approaches with the Prince of Wales missing from the guest list. Charles has made no secret of his feelings over Tibet in the past.
However, there was little sign of any problems as the Prince of Wales began the formal welcome to President Xi. And the two will meet again later when the Chinese President and his wife call at Clarence House for tea and a chance to hear more about the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts.
Also today, the Duke of Cambridge will call on the Chinese Head of State at Buckingham Palace – less than 24 hours after William made an impassioned plea to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade in a speech in London recorded for Chinese TV.
On Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will accompany the guests of honour to an event showcasing creative industry which is being held in London while the Duke of York will attend a banquet at the Guildhall in honour of President Xi.
The State Visit runs from now until October 23rd – stay with Royal Central for full coverage of it all.
Featured photo credit: Sgt Rupert Frere, MOD Crown Copyright 2015