Tuesday, 1 November 2016

State Visit to the UK: by the President of Colombia

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh welcome the President and First Lady of Colombia as they began their State Visit 
(photo Royal Family Twitter)

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have welcomed the President and First Lady of Colombia to London as their three day State Visit to the UK got under way. It was a day filled with ceremony and tradition which began with an official ceremony and ended with a State Banquet. Welcome to #ColombiaStateVisit.

There are always plenty of traditions to get through on the opening day of a State Visit and the customs began before the official part of the trip was even underway. As is usual, President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez, arrived the day before the State Visit got underway and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall travelled to their hotel in London to meet them and then accompany them to Horse Guards Parade for the start of the official part of this State Visit.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh welcomed the visitors there with Theresa May taking part in a State Visit as Prime Minister for the first time.

There was a Royal Salute and a Guard of Honour with the Duke of Edinburgh accompanying President Santos for the inspection.

After that, it was time for one of the most spectacular parts of any State Visit - the carriage procession. The Queen and President Santos headed the procession which was led by the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry.

The Duke of Edinburgh and Mrs Santos followed in the second coach. The spectacular procession made its way down the Mall which was decked in union flags and the flag of Colombia.

After a private lunch, we got another State Visit tradition as the Queen showed her visitors some of the many treasures in the Royal Collection. There is always a link to those who are visiting in the display and this time round this included pieces from Colombia as well as photographs of the Queen meeting Nobel Laureates in honour of President Santos recently winning the Peace Prize.

The visitors then headed off for an afternoon of more State Visit tradition, with a visit to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament where President Santos gave an address.  And then it was time for tea with Charles and Camilla as the President of Colombia, his wife and children all popped over to Clarence House for a catch up - Juan Manuel Santos and the First Lady had hosted the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall when they visited Colombia in 2014.

Meanwhile, preparations were under way at Buckingham Palace for the State Banquet, the glittering end to day one of every State Visit. And as is traditional, the Queen was on hand to inspect last minute preparations, looking over the table settings and the flowers ahead of the meal.

The dinner itself - including pheasant and English sparkling wine - was served in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace.

There were speeches with the Queen telling President Santos she was sure of a 'shared, bright future' for the two countries as 'longstanding allies, working together'.


State Visits are all about past links, future ties and tradition and this one has done all that and more.

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