Her Majesty The Queen welcomes the President of Colombia
No detail was overlooked as Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh formally welcomed The President of the Republic of Colombia and Mrs Maria Clemencia Rodriguez de Santos to Britain today on Horse Guards Parade at the start of Colombia's first ever State Visit to the UK.
State Visits are the highest form of diplomatic contact between Sovereign states and are the high point of the ceremonial season. The UK is Colombia's third highest exporter, and the three-day visit will combine a programme of business, diplomacy and culture.
Pictured: The Guard of Honour from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.
41 Gun Salute
A Guard of Honour from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards formed up on Horse Guards Parade, accompanied by The Band of the Coldstream Guards, and joined by the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, The Life Guards, and the Band of the Household Cavalry in their Gold Coats.
The Colombian flag flew beside the Royal Standard as the President and Mrs Santos, accompanied by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, drove past the Queen's Life Guard and through Horse Guards Arch, the official entrance to London's Royal Palaces.
At the precise moment the President alighted from his car and took his first step onto the stairs leading to the Royal Pavilion where The Queen, the Prime Minister and others were waiting to greet him. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41 Gun Salute from The Green Park and the Honourable Artillery Company fired from Her Majesty’s Fortress The Tower of London.
While music was played by the massed bands on Horse Guards Parade, The Band of the Royal Artillery provided musical support to The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery for the Gun Salute in The Green Park.
The Captain of the Guard of Honour Major Charlie Starkey presented his Guard of Honour to the President in fluent Spanish: “The Guard of Honour of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards is present, formed up and ready for your inspection Sir”. Then Her Majesty The Queen invited the President to inspect the Guard, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
The President, with The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, left Horse Guards for Buckingham Palace in a state carriage procession escorted by 200 horses of the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
Their journey down The Mall, which was bedecked with Colombian and British flags, was lined by troops from Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards and F Company Scots Guards. The Band of the Grenadier Guards performed music as the procession passed Marlborough Road, and The Band of the Scots Guards performed at the Duke of York Steps.
On arrival at Buckingham Palace, a Guard of Honour of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, came to attention in the Quadrangle. Musical support was provided by The Band of the Irish Guards. As the Royal party entered Buckingham Palace, Troopers from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment lined the staircase.
Gold coated trumpeters
On the afternoon of 1st November, when the President visited the Palace of Westminster, a Dismounted Detachment of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment made up of one officer and 24 cavalrymen - twelve soldiers from each regiment – the Blues and Royals, and the Life Guards - lined the staircase at the House of Lords and fanfares were played by Gold Coated Trumpeters from the Band of the Household Cavalry.
One of the soldiers, Trooper Carlos Florez-Serna, who was born in Colombia, but now lives in the UK serving in the British Army, had the honour of being introduced to the President as he passed.
A State Banquet will be held in the evening at Buckingham Palace. The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment will provide staircase lining parties and The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra will provide musical entertainment. 12 Pipers provided by 1st Battalion Scots Guards will play a selection of bagpipe music at the end of the evening.
Major General Ben Bathurst, Major General Commanding the Household Division, will command all troops for the entirety of the visit. For all the soldiers involved, many of whom will be taking part in a major ceremonial event for the first time, it is a very grand occasion, and one in which they are proud and privileged to be part of.