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Royal welcome in store for Xi and Peng

By Karen Kwok | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2015-10-18 09:05

Chinese president and first lady will enjoy pomp and ceremony during UK state visit

President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan will stay at Buckingham Palace as guests of Queen Elizabeth II during the couple's state visit to the United Kingdom.

The palace, which sits in the heart of London, has served as the official residence of the British monarch since 1837.

 Royal welcome in store for Xi and Peng

President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan will stay at Buckingham Palace. Provided to China Daily

Xi and his wife will arrive on Oct 20, giving the couple an opportunity to experience the tradition and history of the royal family.

"When welcoming a foreign head of state, lots of care is taken to ensure they feel appreciated," says Robert Jobson, royal editor of the London Evening Standard and author of The Future Royal Family. "I'm sure the Queen will enjoy showing the president the many historic artifacts linked to China at the palace. After all, there is a Chinese room at the palace."

A lavish state banquet will be held in Xi's honor in the palace ballroom.

"Great care is taken over the meals that are served so the visiting dignitary feels welcomed," Jobson says.

When US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle dined with Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, spring lamb with basil was served as the main dish, accompanied by a British sparkling wine, a 2004 Ridgeview Rose Cuvee Merret Fitzrovia. Other wines were mostly French.

"While all the male guests will be dressed formally in white tie and tails, and the ladies in long dresses, former president Hu Jintao in 2005 wore a dark business suit, so the likelihood is Xi will follow the Chinese norm," says Dickie Arbiter, a former Buckingham Palace spokesman and author of On Duty With the Queen.

This state visit is the first by a Chinese head of state for 10 years and comes at a time of a closer economic cooperation between China and the UK in areas ranging from nuclear power to trade.

The president's itinerary is unlikely to be confirmed until Oct 19, but based on previous visits there will be a full ceremonial meet and greet featuring a royal guard of honor and a cannon salute.

He will arrive on Horse Guards Parade by car and be met by the queen. She will formally introduce Xi to her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as other members of the royal family, Prime Minister David Cameron, the archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the army, navy and air force and the lord mayor of Westminster.

Xi will then be invited to inspect the guard of honor, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh. The two countries' national anthems will be played by a military band, after which the queen will invite Xi to join her in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace. Peng will join the Duke of Edinburgh in the second carriage.

The schedule will also include a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. A meeting with Cameron in Downing Street will also be on the list, as well as talks with the leaders of the main opposition parties.

"While a state visit invitation is issued by the queen, it is on the recommendation of the government based on the current political and diplomatic climate," Arbiter says. "Both are extremely good - indeed this was borne out by Chancellor George Osborne's visit to China and (Prince William) the Duke of Cambridge's visit in March when he met with Xi."

Economic links between China and the UK have become stronger in recent years, signaled by the fact the UK was among the first European economies to embrace the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank this year.

For China Daily

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