Trump family mingles with royalty at state banquet
The Trump dynasty is mingling with the royal family at the lavish state banquet, where industry chiefs rather than Hollywood stars have gathered to honour US President Donald Trump.
In the Buckingham Palace ballroom with its six glittering chandeliers, the vast white-clothed horse shoe-shaped table has been laden with George IV’s silver gilt Grand Service dinner set.
Small white place cards embossed with a golden royal crest and edged in gold are at each setting, to show where the 170 guests are to be seated.
As is tradition, the Queen, who does not have her own place card, is at the head of the table, with the Prince of Wales on her left and Mr Trump on her right.
Joining Mr Trump and First Lady Melania at the white tie and tiara event are four of Mr Trump’s five children – Ivanka Trump, with her husband Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and his wife Lara, and Tiffany Trump.
Sixteen members of the royal family are at the dinner – the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
The Duke of Sussex, who was at the private lunch earlier, will be noticeably absent, as will the Duchess of Sussex who is on maternity leave, looking after their four-week-old son Archie.
Charles, who had tea with Mr Trump earlier on Monday, is seated next to Mrs Trump, while Camilla is on the other side of the president and next to US ambassador Woody Johnson.
William is between the Prime Minister Theresa May and Mr Johnson’s wife Suzanne Ircha. Kate is seated between US secretary of the treasury Steven Mnuchin and the Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin.
The president’s daughter and adviser Ivanka is seated between the Countess of Wessex and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, while Ivanka’s husband Mr Kushner, a senior adviser to Mr Trump, has the Princess Royal on his right and Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, on his left.
Former US president Barack Obama’s state banquet in 2011 was sprinkled with Hollywood stardust, with a guest list including actor Tom Hanks, actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton.
But Mr Trump’s grand occasion was more trade and business than showbusiness.
Among the captains of industry invited are Swedish businessman and chairman of AstraZeneca Leif Johansson, chairman of BP Helge Lund, Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn, GlaxoSmithKline boss Emma Walmsley, Universal Music Group chairman Sir Lucian Grainge and Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden, as well as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Politicians at the event include Mrs May and her husband Philip , Cabinet Office minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Mr Fox, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Leader of the House of Lords Baroness Evans and Europe and Americas minister Sir Alan Duncan.
Tiffany Trump was seated between HSBC chairman Mark Tucker and the Queen’s top aide, her private secretary Edward Young, while Lara Trump, Mr Trump’s daughter-in-law, was between Lord Hague and Mr van Beurden.
Twenty three elaborate floral displays of dark pink peonies, lilac stocks and pale pink roses adorned the table, along with large seven-branch state candelabrum and the elaborate soup tureen which was once used to serve George IV his favourite turtle soup.
The Queen earlier inspected the ballroom in person to make sure everything was perfect for her visitors.
Tablecloths and napkins – folded in the shape of a Dutch bonnet – cruet sets and six glasses at each setting – for water, a champagne toast, red and white wines, a dessert wine and port – were all carefully in place – although teetotal Mr Trump will not be sampling the wines on offer.
A special red velvet cushion was ready on Charles’ chair to help ease his back pain.
Every place setting was 18 inches apart – with measuring sticks used to ensure absolute precision.
Preparations for the banquet began six months before the event and it has taken palace staff four days to lay the table.
Nineteen stations have been set up around the table, each manned by four staff – a page, footman, under butler and a wine butler – who use a traffic light system to co-ordinate the serving of courses.
The event operates with military precision. It takes staff one hour and 15 minutes to serve the banquet and about one hour and 30 minutes to clear away afterwards.