Protocol of A State Visit

  March 30, 2009 at 4:53 am by

This morning The Queen will welcome The President of Mexico to The UK at the start of his State Visit.

A state visit (especially where a Monarch is involved) is one of the most formal royal events, full of ceremonial and protocol.

Queen Elizabeth II has maintained the traditions of the Edwardian Court and continues to entertain state visitors in a manner more suitable of the 1900’s. Nevertheless these great occasions are the highlight of the Royal year and continue to be a big news story.

A UK incoming state visit usually begins mid-week and is held in London or Windsor (very occasional Edinburgh) and begins with a ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards or The Main Street in Windsor, carriage rides, guards of honour and national anthems all play a key role in these proceedings and a detailed programme is prepared by The Lord Chamberlain’s Office.

The first evening sees a state banquet when guests attend in White Tie and Tails, evening dresses and tiaras. The Queen gives a speech (drafted by the FCO) and proposes the health and happiness of the state visitor who in turn replies and offers the loyal toast. Precedence is strictly observed at the banquet with the visitor being accompanied by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family accompanying members of the Official Suite.

The Queen gives the state visitor a set of staff including a Lord in Waiting and a Lady in Waiting for the Consort.

The Visitor often gives a return dinner on the second night, though these aren’t as frequent as in previous years, the State visitor is always received at a reception in the Guildhall in London (another white tie event) and a minor Royal is usually in attendance, The Gloucesters or Prince and Princess Michael of Kent are frequent attendees.

Finally there is the matter of gifts, and I’m not talking about the odd teapot, The Queen usually honours the state visitor with a decoration (Presidents get the Grand Cross of The Order of The Bath) while a Sovereign can expect The Garter or The Royal Victorian Order, a few signed photographs of The Queen and Prince Philip and perhaps a carriage clock and maybe even a dinner service – now I’m sure that Her Majesty is relieved that The Foreign and Commonwealth Office picks up the bill!!

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