SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


Monarchy Monday: State Banquets

If there is something that Buckingham Palace does exceptionally well, it would be the State Banquets that are put on the first evening of a state visit by a visiting Head of State.

Taking place in the ballroom, the State Banquet is one of the most formal events the Palace holds. The upwards of 150 guests dress in formal ‘white tie and decorations’, which includes tiaras for the ladies.

The most formal of these events at Buckingham Palace takes place in November each year, as Queen Elizabeth hosts a reception like no other from members of the foreign diplomatic corps resident in London. For a large occasion such as this, all state rooms are used for the Royal Family to proceed through, starting with the great north doors of the Picture Gallery. When all the large, double mirrored doors are opened, the light reflects off of them and the numerous crystal chandeliers and sconces which causes an optical illusion of light and space.

For formal events like this one, guests can expect only the best as they dine off of gold plates.

The more regular State Banquets that are held also follow strict formality, from the procession, the menu and the music. Taken from programme of the 2011 US State Visit of the 24 to 26 of May, here is an example of how members of the Royal Family and guests enter in pairs:

The Prince of Wales – The Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice – The Duchess of Cornwall
The Duke of York – Mrs. Williams
The Earl of Wessex – The Hon. Valerie Jarrett
The Hon. David Plouffe – The Countess of Wessex
The Hon. Louis B. Susman – The Princess Royal
Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence – Mrs. Cameron
The Duke of Gloucester – The Lady Phillips of Worth Matravers
The Hon. Michael Froman – The Duchess of Gloucester
The Duke of Kent – The Lord Speaker
Prince Michael of Kent – Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall
The Hon. Dr. Philip Gordon – Princess Michael of Kent
The Speaker of the House of Commons – Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy

The menu is no less impressive and is sure to make your mouth water:

Paupiette de Sole et Cresson (roulade of sole with watercress)
Sauce Nantua (bechamel spiked with cream and crayfish)

Agneau de la Nouvelle Saison de Windsor au Basilic (Spring lamb “Windsor” with basil)
Courgettes et Radis Sautées (sautéed zucchini and radishes)
Panaché d’Haricots Verts (green beans)
Pommes Boulangère (gratin-style potatoes)
Salade (salad)

Charlotte à la Vanille et Cerises Griottes (molded dessert with a vanilla filing and sour cherries)

Fruits de Dessert (fruit)
Les Vins
Ridgeview Cuvée Merret Fitzrovia Rosé 2004
Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2004 (Domaine William Fèvre)
Echézeaux Grand Cru 1990 (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti)
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Vintage Rich 2002
Royal Vintage Port 1963

The evening was filled with music of a variety of styles including classical, baroque and a waltz, as well as a combination of pipe playing. The Queen sure knows how to host a memorable evening! I will be waiting for my invitation in the post…

Photo Credit: CAPTAIN ROGER FENTON 9th.WEST MIDDLESEX VRC. 1860 via Flickr