Tonight Queen Elizabeth hosted a state dinner at Buckingham Palace in honor of the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). It was in many ways a finale for her last 66 years of work on behalf of the Commonwealth, the continued unity of which has been a cornerstone of her reign. This morning she publicly endorsed her son, the Prince of Wales, as her successor for the non-hereditary role of the Commonwealth’s head, while tonight’s toasts acknowledged that the monarch plans to scale down her work further, relying increasingly on her family to represent her both in the UK and abroad.
Thus, it was fitting that alongside the Queen and Charles were other members of the Royal Family, including the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princess Beatrice, among others.
State dinners are always fun for the rest of us because they showcase all the traditional trappings of royalty – tiaras and jewels, medals and the appropriately regal BP. Tonight was no different, but it was elevated thanks to the presence of representatives from all 53 Commonwealth nations, many of whom expressed their gratitude and admiration for the Queen.
As the President of Ghana said in his remarks:
“We’re led to to understand that she’ll be winding down her duties as head of the Commonwealth,’ he said of the Queen. This toast thus takes on an added significance, for it falls upon me to express the depth of our collective regret that she will no longer automatically be present at our proceedings.
“It is my fervent hope that the deep love she has held for this association will continue to light the way for all of us. She will always be an icon of the Commonwealth.”
Tonight’s event was held in the BP picture gallery, making the entire scene markedly more intimate than many of these occasions.
It appears the goal was to facilitate mingling, underscoring this week’s objective to meet, communicate and unite.
Many of the images are candid of either someone delivering a speech or of guests speaking in small groups throughout the gallery. As for these three photos, well, I like to keep a running tally of the members of the House of Windsor who Justin Trudeau has charmed – we can now add the Queen, Charles and Beatrice to that list:
[A very expressive] William:
Charles and Prime Minister Theresa May:
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, also delivered a speech this evening:
Ardern recently made headlines when she announced her pregnancy and her intention to continue serving as PM.
Finally, there was a bagpipe performance for guests to mark the end of the evening lest anyone forgot where they were:
The Queen did make a speech this evening, and while I’ve seen some quotes from it, I’ve yet to come across the full text. If and when I come across it I’ll update here accordingly.
In the meantime, tomorrow will see a joint engagement for William and Harry focused on wildlife conservation and we should get a decision on whether Charles is to be recognized as his mother’s successor as head of the Commonwealth. I’ll see you then!