The Princess of Wales chose a design by Jenny Packham for tonight’s state banquet.
The Prince and Princess as they arrived at Buckingham Palace.
Embed from Getty Images
The glittering affair honored South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa; it is the first state dinner hosted by King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, seen below with the President in the music room at Buckingham Palace.
More about the event from this BBC story.
The banquet is a key moment in the ritual of a state visit, with food and toasts in a splendid setting, with staff in tails ferrying food to tables that have taken five days to get ready. It is where the vision of monarchy meets the realpolitik of trade and international relations.
Tonight’s dinner was also the first for the Waleses with their new titles.
Also seen in the photo above are the Duke of Kent (far left) and the Earl of Wessex. The Earl is seen in this next image with the Countess of Wessex. Tomorrow the Earl will accompany President Ramaphosa as he views the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Other royal family members attending the event included the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
We learn more about the preparation for a state banquet from this Daily Mail piece.
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.
Place settings are measured at exactly 45 centimetres apart. A setting comprises two knives and forks with a dessert spoon and fork above; to the left of each place are a porcelain side plate and a silver butter knife, and a small glass butter dish.
Over a thousand glasses are used at a Banquet – every guest is given six glasses. A further champagne glass for the toasts is also provided.
Here is a quick video showing work on decor for tonight’s dinner.
Final preparations are underway for tonight’s State Banquet.
💐 Arrangements featuring British-grown seasonal flowers will adorn the Ballroom. pic.twitter.com/4MBJoOvb55
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 22, 2022
The British-grown seasonal flowers and foliage were sourced from the gardens of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
This afternoon, the King and Queen Consort inspected the ballroom.
🌺 As final touches are made, The King and The Queen Consort inspect the table ahead of tonight’s State Banquet. pic.twitter.com/ETsgKxMqIC
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 22, 2022
When it is time for guests and hosts to process into the ballroom, the order is determined by the position of seniority. Below, King Charles and President Ramaphosa leading the way.
Followed by the Queen Consort and Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa.
The Prince of Wales and an unidentified guest were next.
Followed by the Princess of Wales with an unidentified guest.
Then the Earl of Wessex (not shown) and the Countess of Wessex, seen below.
You can see the Duke and Duchess (in blue) of Gloucester on the right in the image above. Here is a quick video.
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) November 22, 2022
This offers a wide view of the ballroom.
Another video, this one showing the royal family and President Ramaphosa as they entered the ballroom.
🎥 Sky News pic.twitter.com/J9Uq04NSZf
— Patricia Treble (@PatriciaTreble) November 22, 2022
The Princess of Wales, President Ramaphosa, the King, and Queen Consort.
Before dinner gets underway, there are speeches.
The King opened his remarks by saying ‘welcome’ in six of the languages used in South Africa. More on his remarks from this Hannah Furness story in The Telegraph.
In an era of “firsts”, this would have been one of the more momentous for the new King.
“My wife and I are delighted to welcome you to Buckingham Palace,” he told the visiting South African president, as he took on the most significant of diplomatic duties from his mother in the first state visit of his reign.
In a glowing speech ahead of a Buckingham Palace banquet paying tribute to both the late Queen Elizabeth II and her friendship with Nelson Mandela, he called the evening “particularly moving and special” for celebrating a country which has “always been part of my life”.
There are toasts.
President Ramasphosa and the Princess of Wales.
President Ramaphosa also delivered remarks.
We return to The Telegraph article.
In a warm reciprocal speech, Cyril Ramaphosa spoke to the new generation of Royal family-South African relationship, telling the King: “I wish to compliment you personally on your visionary leadership on environmental issues over many years. Some of your messages over the years [now] sound very prophetic.”
The full text of the President’s remarks may be read here. Below, guests standing for a toast.
When it was time to eat, guests dined on an impressive selection of food accompanied by French and English wines.
Below, a video showing some of the food preparation underway ahead of tonight’s festivities.
What’s been cooking in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace for the State Visit? 👨🍳🇿🇦
The national flowers of South Africa, Protea, have been recreated out of sugar and painted with edible colouring, which will be presented at the State Banquet alongside petit fours and coffee. pic.twitter.com/roQxRDNqpd
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 21, 2022
A closer look at the dessert.
We now turn to coverage of ensembles worn by some key figures at tonight’s banquet, starting with the Queen Consort. She was in a vibrant blue Bruce Oldfield lace gown seen earlier this year at a Commonwealth Heads of Government dinner and also in a British Vogue feature.
She wore her Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II on her left and the Order of the Garter sash and star. The Queen’s jewelry included a spectacular sapphire tiara, earrings, and bracelet, as well as one of her Van Cleef & Arpels’ Alhambra’ bracelets.
More via The Court Jeweller’s report on tonight’s shimmering jewels.
Queen Camilla gave us a lovely sapphire surprise at the banquet, wearing jewels that belonged to her late mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. She donned the Belgian Sapphire Tiara, a converted royal necklace purchased by Elizabeth in the 1960s. Even more meaningfully, she paired the tiara with pieces from the King George VI Sapphire Suite, which was a wedding gift to Elizabeth from her father.
Camilla wore the necklace (without its pendant) and the bracelet… from the set. Her earrings, modern sapphire and diamond pieces, are not part of the suite.
She wore the Royal Victorian Order sash and star, her Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, and the Wessex Aquamarine Tiara. Additionally, The Court Jeweller reports, “Her earrings are part of the late Queen’s Pear-Shaped Diamond Demi-Parure. She also wore Queen Elizabeth II’s Modern Fringe Necklace.”
The tiara is convertible and can be worn as a necklace. More via this Town and Country piece.
The stunning piece features a jaw-dropping central aquamarine stone. While its origins are not entirely clear, the piece was reportedly custom-made for Sophie by G. Collins & Sons, a famed English jewelry house.
And now for the Princess of Wales.
The Princess was in a dramatic Jenny Packham design with embellished shoulders, a fitted bodice descending to a flared skirt with a train, and slit cape sleeves. The gown looks like a custom version of the Jenny Packham’ Elspeth’ wedding gown from the designer’s fall 2021 bridal collection. Below, the Elspeth ($5075) as shown at District Five Boutique. It is also available at Kleinfeld.
Ellie Hall of Buzzfeed caught something I had missed in this photo of the Countess of Wessex. In the image, you see the Princess from behind, and Ellie pointed out the Princess’s gown does not have an open back as the Elspeth does; her dress has been modified to provide full coverage of her back.
The version worn by the Princess also has heavier embellishment than what is seen on the model.
Thank you to Carly from Kate Middleton Style for this ID. The design was also available in other colors.
The Princess wore her hair up, showcasing the gown’s embellishment and her jewelry.
This evening the Princess returned to her most-worn tiara, the Lover’s Knot. As detailed by Vogue, “The Lover’s Knot Tiara was commissioned for Queen Mary in 1913 from Britain’s House of Garrard. It consists of diamonds and a collection of 19 hanging pearls, all set in silver and gold.”
She had on the pearl bracelet that belonged to HM, with four strands of pearls and an X-shaped diamond clasp.
It is part of a set that includes a four-strand pearl necklace. The Princess wore the necklace and bracelet when attending HM’s funeral in September.
Tonight’s earrings are a pair that once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. The Telegraph says, “The earrings feature a double curve of various cuts of diamonds, with a cluster of marquise-cut stones in the centre. They are versatile too, due to the removable pearl drop.” The Princess wears them with smaller drops than those worn by Diana.
The final jewelry item is the art deco brooch first noted at the Remembrance Sunday service on November 16th. On that occasion, the Princess wore it with her poppies (below right); tonight it was used to help anchor her sash at the right shoulder, with thanks to Irish Sara for pointing this out.
Tonight the Princess of Wales wore the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II. The order is a gift that was personally bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to female members of the Royal Family. It features an image of the Queen in formal attire and wearing a tiara. The oval is surrounded by diamonds and topped by a red enameled crown.
More about the order from this Daily Mail article.
A total of 15 women were granted the honour by the late Queen, which is thought to have been first introduced by George IV in the 1800s as women in the royal court typically did not have the commemorative medals that men do.
Previous recipients of Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Family Order include The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales.
There are seven living recipients: the Princess of Wales, the Queen Consort, the Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Gloucester and the Honourable Lady Ogilvy.
The Princess also wore her sash and Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. A Dame Grand Cross is the equivalent of a Knighthood for a male member of the Order.
We also saw the return of the Alexander McQueen Butterfly Box Clutch.
It looks like the Princess wore the Rania 105 Embellished Pumps ($2495) by Gianvito Rossi that were first worn during the Caribbean tour, but this is just a guess as the photo is so tiny.
In case you missed it, here is a link to the post covering this afternoon’s ensemble.