Her Majesty The Queen has welcomed His Excellency The President of the Republic of Singapore, Mr Tony Tan Keng Yam, and his wife as they make their first State Visit to the UK.
The Queen, along with The Duke of Edinburgh, arrived by car at Horse Guards Parade this morning shortly after 11:00am, amidst the cold and windy weather. A few minutes later, the Singaporean President and his wife arrived, accompanied by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Earlier this morning, His Excellency and Mrs Tan were greeted at the Royal Garden Hotel in London by The Duke and Duchess on behalf of The Queen. It was the second time that they have met the President, the first being in September 2012 during their visit to Singapore as part of the Diamond Jubilee Tour.
Taking the lift, The Duke and Duchess met the Tans in their hotel suite and admired the panoramic vista, with The President commenting on the view of Kensington Palace. Prince William, jokingly replied, saying: “You can probably see into our bedroom window from here which is a bit worrying – I wouldn’t look too closely.”
Before taking their tea, an official picture of the two parties was taken.
The Ceremonial Welcome is Catherine’s first engagement since she visited the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppy installation at the Tower of London in August – the same installation that The Queen and Prince Philip visited last week. Still suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Catherine is pregnant with her second child, which is expected in April 2015, Kensington Palace announced yesterday.
Wearing a grey Alexander McQueen coat and Jane Taylor hat, The Duchess travelled with Mrs Tan by car to the Royal Pavillion on Horse Guards and told the President at the hotel that she had been “looking forward to getting out of the house.”
She has been forced to cancel a number of engagements due to her illness, including what would have been her first solo overseas trip; a two-day visit to Malta, which The Duke undertook in her place.
A Royal salute of 41 guns was fired in nearby Green Park as the Tans and The Duke and Duchess arrived.
As both the Royal and Presidential parties joined the Royal Pavillion, the two Heads of State shook hands and chatted for a few moments before The Queen, wearing a Karl Ludwig navy blue tweed coat and Angela Kelly hat, introduced the senior members of her Government.
Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Theresa May and other dignitaries attended the high-security event.
The President will hold bilateral talks with the Prime Minister tomorrow and is expected to receive calls from both the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, throughout the week.
The Royal Salute was made by the Grenadier Guards, dressed in their distinctive scarlet tunics and bearskin hats. Following the salute, the Singaporean National Anthem was played and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge respectfully stood, listened and watched before an inspection of the Guard of Honour was made. The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, accompanied President Tan as he inspected the 96 servicemen from 1st Battalion.
As the ceremony drew to a close, the State Coaches arrived; Her Majesty and His Excellency travelling first in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, followed by The Duke of Edinburgh and Mrs Tan in the Australian State Coach and Prince William and Catherine accompanied Grace Fu, Singapore’s Second Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Scottish Stage Coach.
Departing Horse Guards, the procession made its way to Buckingham Palace via The Mall with soldiers from F Company Scots Guards, Number 7 Coldstream Guards and 1st Battalion Welsh Guards lining the route.
The Queen hosted a private lunch for The President and Mrs Tan at the Palace with The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince William also in attendance. The Duchess of Cambridge is believed to have returned home to Kensington Palace.
The visit, which comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, is the first time a Singaporean President has visited the UK. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh has previously paid State Visits to the country in 1972, 1989 and, most recently, in 2006.
President Tan, who is 74, entered politics in 1979 and became Deputy Prime Minister in 1995. He left the post in 2005 and later announced his intention to stand for election as the country’s president. He was elected as the Singapore’s seventh Head of State in August 2011.
More information on the State Visit, including the itinerary of events, can be found on Royal Central’s earlier report.
Image Credits: James Brookes/Royal Central