Empress Michiko charmed Baguettes and you voted the 1998 Japanese State Visit to Denmark as your favorite. An excellent, elegant choice, all! Are you ready for aughts? Early in the decade, there was a flurry of royal weddings between princes and glamorous commoners, and we begin to see some of the royals we talk about today.
Dutch State Visit to Belgium, June 2006
Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, and Crown Princess Maxima arrived at the airport Deurne in Antwerp and the Welcome Ceremony was held at the City Hall. We talk about Oma’s cake hats, but mercy, check out that cloud on Maxima and the spiral on Tils! Way to hat-represent, ladies.
The hosts remained in the same clothes but the guests found time to change both hats and dresses before waving from the balcony at the Brussels Town Hall.
The State Banquet was hosted that evening by King Albert and Queen Paola at the Royal Castle of Leaken. The King and Queen of Belgium were ably supported by Crown Prince Philippe and Crown Princess Mathilde, Queen Fabiola, Prince Laurent, Princess Clair, Archduke Lorenz and Princess Astrid. We’ll just toss in a tiara roll call: Nine Provinces, Dutch Sapphire, Rose Cut Diamond Bandeau, Laurel Wreath, Claire’s Wedding tiara, and the Savoy-Aosta tiara. Maxima channeled a sparkly Jacqueline Kennedy and Tils is wearing a hairstyle I would never ever have imagined on her if there weren’t photos documenting that it did, indeed, happen.
Prince Constantjin was living in Belgium at the time with his young family, and he popped up to support the family as well. Check out the hairdo on Princess Astrid!
Day two of the visit included a visit to Ghent with Queen Beatrix looking absolutely stunning in red. Maxima and Willem-Alexander had left to return to the Netherlands, but Constantjin remained in support of the Queen.
There was one final gala event, a concert in the “Paleis voor Schone Kunsten-Palais des Beaux-Arts” (Centre For Fine Arts) in Brussels, hosted by Queen Beatrix. We don’t have access to the photos, alas, but you can see some shots of Mathilde here.
Spanish State Visit to Norway, June 2006
The Spanish royals returned for another state visit to Norway in June 2006, although this one has also been billed as simply an “official visit”. We have a new player on the field, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, making an appearance at the welcome ceremony.
There are times when the daywear on these visits eclipses the evening wear, and this is one of those times. In fact, I think of this visit as the “Stellar Sofia Suit Show”. The two Queens paid a visit to a hospital together and then, a few days later, picked up the husbands for a visit to an oil rig, where the gear was much less glamorous.
The Queens also took in some culture at the Norwegian National Gallery. I really want to know what they are looking at here.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the best photograph of the State Dinner, but the Diamond Daisy, Martha Louise’s 18th birthday tiara, and Empress Josephine Emeralds put in an appearance on the Norwegian lady’s heads You can also see Auntie Astrid in the corner of one photo, but I couldn’t tell what tiara is buried in her hair..
It was Sofia who dazzled here, though. Her dress sparkled, but it was the fact she wore the massive La Rusa tiara for the first time that had everyone talking. The tiara had been in the possession of Infanta Pilar, Juan Carlos’ sister, and it was not known if the Queen would ever wear it.
This was a crazy busy trip, and Sofia wore another spectacular suit for a reception for the Spanish Community.
Return Dinners have become much less grand over the decades, although they still happen. The entire group looked festive, if not as fancy as we saw in previous decades.
French State Visit to Britain, March 2008
I won’t lie to you. This state visit had me running to Wikipedia to see if Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy were still married. They are, although they have both had quite an interesting ride since 2008. However, back in the day the French president vowed to “open a new chapter in ties with Great Britain”. The Queen and Duke welcomed the French first couple, and chicness and cuteness both ruled the day.
The French President and First Lady laid a wreath at the statue of Charles de Gaulle. I was fascinated to see that in 2008 a stylish woman could wear flats and not look in the least dumpy. Of course, it was La Bruni.
In 2008 it was also the height of strapless evening gowns everywhere. Carla Bruni is the epitome of style here in this burgundy column, worn to a dinner held by the Lord Mayor of London at the Guildhall.
Ah, the state dinner. Have you ever seen shots like this? I love the photos of the gala dinner table for these events.
The Queen wore the Burmese Ruby, Camilla was in the Greville, and Anne wore her Festoon Tiara – along with one of the most glamorous gala gowns she owns. Although not pictured, the Queen was also supported by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Duke of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
I have a strange fascination with the fact that Ms. Bruni wears flats – or the lowest heels possible – whenever she can. My kind of fashion statement.
If you would like a deep dive on all of Ms. Bruni’s outfits during the visit, Vogue followed the former supermodel then-First Lady in detail.