'High Street Kate' so pretty in pink as she splashes out on 1,200 dress to welcome world's royals to Queen's Jubilee lunch
The Duchess looked at ease as she mingled with guests at Windsor Castle alongside William and Harry today
Kate's wool dress was from catwalk designer Emilia Wickstead's current collection
01:38 GMT, 19 May 2012
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today joined dozens of royals from around the globe for a special lunch celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Wearing a 1,200 pink Emilia Wickstead dress with pleated skirt, Kate looked entirely at ease as she mingled with the international royals, chatting warmly with Princess Charlene of Monaco and sharing a joke with the King of Jordan and his wife.
A sneak peek at the seating plan showed there were 24 Kings and Queens, one Emperor, a Grand Duke and a Sultan.
Eight princesses, an Emir and a lone Empress added a further layer of gravitas to the mix.
Perfect hosts: Kate wore a simple pleated dress by Emilia Wickstead as she joined William in welcoming thte world's Royals for the Queen's celebratory lunch at Windsor Castle today
Today's World Sovereign’s lunch at Windsor Castle to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was almost certainly the largest gathering of crowned heads of state since our own Queen’s coronation in 1953.
But the joyousness of the occasion was overshadowed by a growing row about some of the more controversial names on her guest list and sparked demonstrations outside Buckingham Palace, where a second lavish black tie dinner was being thrown later in day by Prince Charles for some of the lunch guests.
Indeed the Queen, who has spent the last 60 years managing to sidestep such political controversy, has found herself accused of making a catastrophic error of judgment today by dining with the King of Bahrain, whose regime is accused of a catalogue of human rights abuses.
Celebratory mood: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were joined by Prince Harry for a drinks reception in the castle's Waterloo Chamber before a three-course meal using all-British ingredients
At ease: Kate chats to King Simeon of Bulgaria and his wife Margarita
Girl talk: The Duchess of Cambridge chatted to Charlene, Princess of Monaco, who looked stylish with a new shorter hair cut
Playing host: William talked to Prince Albert II of Monaco while Kate entertained his wife Charlene
Joyous occasion: The Monaco royals were among the largest gathering of crowned heads of state since our own Queen's coronation in 1953
International relations: Kate shares a joke with one of the Queen's royal guests, one of 98 who arrived at Windsor to enjoy a sit-down lunch with the British monarch
Also singled out for criticism is Swaziland’s King Mswati 111, who has been accused of living an obscenely lavish lifestyle while many of his people starve.
Similarly Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, the country’s Ambassador to Britain, comes from a country not entirely renowned for its democratic practices.
Another guest, the former Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah, is also mired in controversy after stepping down over a corruption row.
However the Queen, who has been advised by the Foreign Office, appeared unperturbed by the furore and made a point of personally greeting Bahrain’s King Hamad Al-Khalifa as he arrived at the Castle. The pair even shared a private joke together.
Got the blues Princess Charlene chose a powder blue suit for the occasion, adhering to Royal protocol by teaming them with closed-toe courts
Protocol: Princess Charlene curtseys deeply to the Queen as she and Prince Albert arrive at the Castle
Pleased to meet you: Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice with Princess Sabika of Bahrain
Elegant: Princess Srirasm of Thailand wore a pretty blush pink silk top with metallic skirt, left, while the Crown Princess Margarita of Romania chose vibrant red for the lunch
First to arrive for pre-lunch drinks in the Waterloo Chamber was Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, soon followed by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg.
The Grand Duke and Duchess were warmly greeted by the Queen and Duke with handshakes and double kisses – a display of affection that set the tone for many of the welcomes.
King Harald V of Norway kissed the Queen’s hand when he and his wife Queen Sonja met the monarch and she replied with a beaming smile.
Prince Albert II of Monaco was more formal with just a handshake while his wife, Princess Charlene, gave a low curtsey.
The most extravagant welcome, however, came from Queen Beatrix of Netherland who flung open her arms as she approached the Queen before kissing her warmly.
All senior members of the British Royal Family were present including the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, and brother-in-law, Prince Harry, as well as other younger royals including Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who were seen chatting animatedly to the wife of the King of Bahrain, Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa.
Controversial: Queen Elizabeth greets the King of Bahrain at today's lunch, while angry demonstrators outside the castle protested against the monarch's decision to invite the anti-democratic Middle Eastern leader
Polite: The Duke of Edinburgh greets Bahrain's King and his wife after the Queen has done her duty
Close: Queen Margrethe of Denmark greets the British monarch warmly… and is treated to a kiss on the hand by Prince Philip
Fortunately King Mswatsi of Swaziland brought just one of his 13 wives, the third ranked but apparently most favoured Inkhosikati LaMbikiza, who wore a rather eye-catching pair of Pearly Queen-style shoes with feathery pom-poms on the toes and heels.
Thirteen is, by all accounts, a relatively modest total. His father boasted more than 70 spouses – which would really have shaken up the seating plan.
The event had the atmosphere of a family gathering, despite the opulent surroundings, with everyone chatting loudly as they caught up.
The British Royal Family circulated around the chamber mingling with their foreign guests. At one point Prince Harry was engrossed in conversation with the Saudi Ambassador while his brother William and wife Kate chatted to King of Jordan Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania.
Controversial: King Mswati III of Swaziland and Inkhosikati LaMbikiza, his third ranking wife, but said to be his favourite arrive at Windsor Castle – and Inkhosikati wears some rather fetching feather-trimmed heels. The Swaziland King has been criticised for living an obscenely lavish lifestyle while his people starve
Tribute to our Pearly Queen Inkhosikati LaMbikiza's shoes were trimmed with jewels, sequins and feathers
Taking a bow: Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg arrive at the castle, right, Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia and his wife, the Crown Princess Katarina
More arrivals: King Letsie III of Lesotho and Queen Mesenate Mohato Seeiso are greeted by a member of household staff, left. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan, right, arrive at the Castle
Friendly welcome: The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh greet the King and Queen of Norway to the Jubilee
Close: Her Majesty greets the Queen of the Netherlands in the rare meeting of world monarchs
Wealthy: Her Majesty meets the Sultan of Brunei and wife Raja Isteri Pengira Anak Hajah Saleha
Edward joked loudly ‘safety in numbers’ when he found King Mswati III and King Letsie III of Lesotho, along with their spouses, standing together chatting.
After drinks the 62 royals (plus guests, making 98 diners in all) headed into the magnificent St George' Hall for lunch, where they were seated relatively informally in round tables of up to 12.
A FEAST FIT FOR A KING (OR 12) ON THE MENU AT THE JUBILEE
Poached egg with English asparagus
Noisettes of new season Windsor lamb
Juicy Kent-grown strawberries
Each group had at least one sovereign and their spouse, a member of the British royal family and a member of the royal Household seated together.
On the menu was a starter of poached egg with English asparagus, noisettes of new season Windsor lamb and juicy Kent-grown strawberries.
Before the guests sat down to lunch, 21 crowned heads and the six foreign royals representing their sovereigns sat down for a group picture.
They filed into a room where chairs and standing places had been set up with their home country's flags placed where they should be.
The King of Bahrain appeared to be having a fit of giggles as was the Sultan of Brunei, sitting in front of him.
As the photographer began taking the pictures the Queen, who was sitting in the centre of the group, joked: 'Are you supposed to be enjoying this'
Royal affair: The Queen invited royals from around the world to Windsor Castle for a Sovereign Monarchs Jubilee lunch. Front row, left to right: the Emperor of Japan, Queen of the Netherlands, Queen of Denmark, King of the Hellenes, King of Romania, Queen Elizabeth, King of Bulgaria, Sultan of Brunei, King of Sweden, King of Swaziland, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein. Middle, Left to right: Prince of Monaco, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, King of Lesotho, King of the Belgians, King of Norway, Emir of Qatar, King of Jordan, King of Bahrain, and The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. Top row, left to right: Nasser Mohamed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, King of Tonga, the Crown Prince of Thailand, Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco and Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia
Royal procession: Members of the public look on as motorcades containing world leaders began arriving at Windsor Castle earlier this afternoon
EMILIA WICKSTEAD: THE GO-TO DESIGNER FOR HIGH SOCIETY
Society favourite: Designer Emilia Wickstead with loyal client Samantha Cameron
British based, New Zealand-born designer Emilia Wickstead has fast become one of the go-to designers for London's high society.
In business just three years, Ms Wickstead has already dressed a number of royals – not least Kate, who wore an emerald Emilia Wickstead coat dress for a St Patrick's Day appearance earlier this year.
Kate has been spotted various times visiting the atelier in London's Belgravia, and is said to be a great fan of the brand.
Privately, Ms Wickstead is said to be delighted the Kate has shown interest in her collection.
Ms Wickstead also dressed a number of VIP guests invited to last year's Royal Wedding, including Kate's cousin Lucy, Anya Hindmarch, Georgina Cadbury, Lady Kitty Spencer, Emma Parker Bowles and India Hicks, who was a bridesmaid to Princess Diana.
But Emilia's client base is not restricted to the upper echelons royalty.
Ms Wickstead can also count Dannii Minogue and Samantha Cameron as trusted customers, both of whom have worn her designs on many occasions.
Most recently, Samantha Cameron wore multiple pieces from Wickstead's collection on a visit to the U.S. in March.
The designer's spring/summer 2012 collection, a pretty collection in candybox hues, was described by Wickstead herself as being a 'mixture of sophistication and playfulness – fashionable women who entertain'.
Perfectly suited for the Duchess's central role today.
'We are happy, delighted and excited to see Kate in one of our designs, a spokesman for Emilia Wickstead said today. 'She looked lovely.'