May 19, 2012 (TSR) – Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II hosted the World Sovereign Monarch Lunch at Windsor Castle as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It is regarded as the largest gathering of crowned heads of state, since Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.
Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein was the first of the royals to arrive for pre-lunch drinks in the Waterloo Chamber. He was followed by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg. Both of them were warmly welcomed by the Queen and the Duke of Edinborough with handshakes and double kisses on either cheek.
Front row, left to right: HM the Emperor of Japan, HM the Queen of the Netherlands, HM the Queen of Denmark, HM the King of the Hellenes, HM the King of Romania, HM Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, HM the King of Bulgarians, HM the Sultan of Brunei, HM the King of Sweden, HM the King of Swaziland, and HH the Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein.
Middle row: HSH the Prince of Monaco, HRH the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, HM the King of Lesotho, HM the King of the Belgians, HM the King of Norway, HH the Emir of Qatar, HM the King of Jordan, HM the King of Bahrain, and HM The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.
Top row: HH Nasser Mohamed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, HH the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, HRH the Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, HM the King of Tonga, HRH the Crown Prince of Thailand, HRH Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.
After which the other royals to arrive was King Harald V and wife Queen Sonja of Norway who too were warmly received by the Queen. Next in line was Prince Albert II of Monaco with his lovely wife Princess Charlene. When Queen Beatrix of Netherland arrived she was most effusive in her greetings. She flung her arms open on meeting the British monarch and kissed her warmly on her cheeks.
The British Royal family was represented by all its senior members including the Duchess of Cambridge. Accompanying her was her husband Prince William and brother-in-law, Prince Harry. Other younger royals included Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Also attending the royal luncheon was the King Mswatsi of Swaziland who had brought with him, one of his 13 wives, Inkhosikati LaMbikiza.
Although it was an opulent affair, the atmosphere was one of family get-together with everyone chatting loudly catching up on their lives. The royal family members easily moved around the chamber playing good hosts to their foreign guests. Prince Harry could be seen in deep conversation with guests. Meanwhile Prince William and wife Kate Middleton were seen sharing a joke with the King of Jordan Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania.
Once the drinks were done with, nearly ninety-eight diners moved into the glorious St George’ Hall for lunch. The seating arrangements there were relatively informal, with round tables accommodating up to a dozen persons. Each group had at least one monarch and their spouse, a British royal family member and a member of the royal Household seated together.
An interesting menu was tastefully set on the royal table for the international guests. For starters there were poached eggs with English asparagus. The main course comprised of noisettes of new season Windsor lamb. Dessert was made up Kent-grown fresh strawberries.
Before sitting down for lunch, the assorted bunch of twenty-one crowned heads of state and the six foreign royals representing their sovereigns, posed for a group photograph. It may be noted that it has been nearly a decade since this many crowned heads of state had congregated together. The last time was in 2002 at the Queen Mother’s funeral and at the Golden Jubilee lunch the same year.