The Queen and Prince Philip yesterday welcomed the Colombian President to London, at the beginning of his State Visit. With a ceremonial welcome at Horseguards Parade, the day was then finished with a lavish State Banquet at Buckingham Palace.
On the first visit to the UK for a Colombian President, the Mall was bedecked in the Union Flag and the tri-coloured one of the South-American country.
In typical British style, pomp and pageantry abound, the Household Cavalry greeted the foreign Head of State with music and a display of army grandeur. 1,000 troops were on parade for the occasion.
Prince Charles and Camilla accompanied Juan Manuel Santos Caldern and his wife, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez Munera, from their hotel to meet the Monarch for the official welcome. The guests will stay at Buckingham Palace for the remainder of their visit.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall spent time with the couple on their visit to Colombia in 2014.
As the President stepped down from his carriage, a 41 gun salute went off at the Tower of London to mark the occasion, also as a sign of respect.
Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also joined the welcome party. This is Mrs May’s first state visit since she became party leader.
Mr Santos inspected a guard of honour, provided by the Coldstream Guards, and was joined by The Duke of Edinburgh.
Later that afternoon, Prince Charles and Camilla once more met with the incoming visitors, this time at Clarence House. It is tradition for the heir to welcome the guests with tea at their home; the Colombian President took his family to greet the heir to the throne.
The London Eye was also lit up in yellow, blue and red – the colours of the Colombian flag, to mark the visit.
Gifts were exchanged by the Heads of State, as a sign of friendship and respect between the two countries. Her Majesty was given coffee and flowers. She also showed her guests a number of items from the Royal Collection during an afternoon reception, for which she had changed into a pink ensemble.
Often these items have a link to the country in question, and yesterday’s selection included Philips pilot license from the country in 1962, and gifts given to Prince Charles and Camilla back in 2014 – as well as the new £5 polymer note. The Queen is always given the first low-numbered version of a new note.
To end the day, The Queen hosted a State Banquet, as is tradition for incoming State Visits. In sapphires and her collar denoting her membership to the Colombian Order of Boyaca, Elizabeth II gave a speech honouring the friendship between the UK and Colombia.
“I am sure of a shared, bright future for both our countries as longstanding allies working together towards global peace and prosperity,” she said.
Joining The Queen and Philip at the banquet were Charles and Camilla, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Sir Tim Lawrence.
Today, The Countess of Wessex will be accompanying Mrs Santos on a visit, while Prince Charles shows the President around the Natural History Museum.
The President will also travel to Northern Ireland on Thursday to meet community leaders in Belfast and discuss the challenges of community reconciliation post-conflict.