Royals on parade: First Lady Michelle Obama joins the Duchess of Cambridge and a dazzling line-up of dignitaries at a glittering pre-Olympics banquet at Buckingham Palace
Mrs Obama scores a fashion hat trick in third outfit of the day
95 dignitaries joined Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate the Opening Ceremony
Kate flies the flag for British designers in a coat by Christopher Kane
Guests dined on quails eggs and smoked salmon and drank English sparkling wine
19:47 GMT, 27 July 2012
The Royal Family were out in force last night for a full-scale charm offensive on global leaders attending London's Olympic Games.
Led by the Queen and Prince Philip, 19 senior royals were rounded up for a champagne reception – well, English sparkling wine – at Buckingham Palace hours before the official opening ceremony as part of the nation's push to strengthen its diplomatic, political and economic ties.
The younger members were led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with Kate flying the flag in an ice blue coat dress by cutting-edge Scottish fashion designer Christopher Kane, who bases himself in London.
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Special relationship: The Duchess of Cambridge greets Michelle Obama during a reception at Buckingham Palace for Heads of State and Government attending the Olympics Opening Ceremony
Queen Elizabeth II meets US First Lady Michelle Obama and US Ambassador Louis Susman at a reception at Buckingham Palace
The Duchess of Cambridge poses with President of Mongolia Elbegdorj Tsakhia
She warmly greeted US First Lady, Michelle Obama, who was invited in her role as head of her country's Olympic delegation.
The two women first met just over a year ago when the Obamas flew to the UK on a state visit.
Other young royals present included Prince Harry and the Duke of York's daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Harry chatted animatedly to leaders from the Caribbean including
Jamaica's republican-leaning Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, whom
he met on an official tour of her island earlier this year.
Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, the Earl and
Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and
Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent also exchanged
pleasantries in the palace ballroom for the hour and a half long event.
More than 190 guests were present – including 95 heads of state and
government and their spouses – ranging from Mongolia to the Marshall
Islands, in the northern Pacific.
Among the first to arrive was the Fijian President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, resplendent in a suit jacket, sarong and sandals.
Adding glamour to the proceedings were Princess Charlene of Monaco,
looking statuesque in a white trouser suit, and her husband, His Serene
Highness Prince Albert 11.
First Lady Michelle Obama arrives at Buckingham Palace escorted by the US Ambassador and meeting Prince Albert of Monaco
Princess Beatrice (right) speaks to the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Omurbek Babanov (left) and Rita Birbaeva
Prince Harry meets with the President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba
State Councillor Dai Bingguo of China arrives
Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud arrives
Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina waves as she arrives
Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov
Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Governor General of Saint Lucia Dame Pearlette Louisy
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault of France
Prime Minister of St Luica Kenny Davis Anthony and wife
Victor-Viorel Ponta, the Prime Minister of Romania and his wife Daciana Sarbu
President of Turkey Abdullah Gl and his wife Hayrunnisa Gul
The South African-born Princess is a former swimmer who competed for her
home country in the 2000 Olympic Games, while Albert was a member of
his principality's bobsleigh team.
Queen Sofia of Spain broke every protocol rule in the book when she was
almost 20 minutes late, apparently missing the Queen's keynote welcome
Aides insisted, however, that it was not a deliberate snub – despite the
Spanish Queen pulling out of a Diamond Jubilee celebration lunch in May
at the last minute in protest over a visit to the disputed territory of
Gibraltar by Prince Edward and his wife.
Bolstering the British contingency was the Prime Minister, David
Cameron, accompanied by his wife, Samantha, Deputy Prime Minister Nick
Clegg and wife Miriam, Foreign Secretary William Hague and spouse Ffion,
and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Also present was the United Nation’s secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee.
Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway arrives with Crown Prince Haakon
Jerry Mateparae, the Governor General of New Zealand and his wife Janine Mateparae
Queen Sofia of Spain
Princess Mathilde of Belgium
Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of Singapore with his wife
Monaco Princess Charlene and Prince Albert arrive
On the menu was a selection of cold canapes including quail's eggs and
celery salt, cornet of smoked duck and rosette of smoked salmon.
Hot morsels included langoustines a l'outhier – and miniature vegetarian cornish pasties.
For those with a sweet tooth, there were chocolate cherries, honey pralines and a passion fruit pate.
The dainty nibbles were washed down with English sparkling wine, a 2007
Blanc de Blancs from the Gusbourne Estate in Kent, and an organic South
African Running Duck chenin blanc.
Queen's guests were also treated to a private viewing of Buckingham
Palace's summer exhibition, a display of her most glittering and
Olympic fans arriving at Stratford park this evening
The Olympic stadium where all the action will unfold tonight
Inside the palace ballroom the Queen's arrival was heralded by a fanfare
from the state trumpeters before she gave a short – but rousing – speech
welcoming her guests to the UK and praising the British sense of 'fair
play and fun'.
She told her guests: 'As leaders of the many nations competing in the
Games you have come from around the world to witness this global
festival of sport. I hope that you will enjoy your time in the United
Kingdom and I'm sure you will find a warm reception awaiting you, your
athletes and the visiting spectators.
A fan wearing Union Jack 2012 sunglasses poses outside the Olympic stadium
A United States fan poses for the cameras
Great Britain fans waves flags
Spectators dressed in Union Jack flags pose in the Olympic Park
United States fans pose with their national flag outside the Olympic stadium
'This will be the third London Olympiad; my great-grandfather opened the
1908 Games at White City; my father opened the 1948 Games at Wembley
Stadium, and later this evening I will take pleasure in declaring open
the 2012 London Olympic Games at Stratford in the east of London.
'To me the spirit of togetherness is a most important part of the
Olympic ideal, and the British people can be proud of the part they have
played in keeping the spirit alive. Many sports played in these Games
have their historic roots in this country; and as a nation we have an
abiding passion for sport, as well as a tradition of fair play and a
good-natured sense of fun.
'In all our national Olympic teams there is so much of which we can be
proud; groups of young men and women dedicated to excellence and
achievement across numerous sporting disciplines. And these teams are
ably supported by thousands of organisers, volunteers and supporters who
will be following the action not just at the Olympic venues here in the
United Kingdom but throughout the world.
'For all these reasons, I wish you and your countries a successful, enjoyable and memorable Games.'
After her speech the Queen walked forward to meet some of her guests
and, in a rare public mishap, dropped her glasses case as she shook
hands with Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff.
Both bent down to pick them up and the Queen carefully popped them away in her handbag.
The reception was due to end at 7pm on the dot as all of those present
were due at the hugely-anticipated opening ceremony of the 2012 Games.
Despite being dropped off by a fleet of black limousines, Rolls Royces
and luxury diplomatic cars, most were picked up by bus to make the
journey into East London – quite a novel experience for many, no doubt.
Michelle Obama and David Beckham high five at today' garden party
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Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
VIDEO: Dignitaries arrive at Buckingham Palace
VIDEO: Queen welcomes dignitaries to Buckingham Palace