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Dashing Duke is the perfect host to elegant Emir's wife on magnificent state visit

27 OCTOBER 2010

After decades of helping the Queen to welcome VIPS from overseas, there's no doubt the Duke of Edinburgh is something of a pro at lightening the tone during otherwise rigidly formal state visits.

This expertise was on display as he shared a playful exchange Sheikha Mozah, one of the three wives of the Emir of Qatar, at Windsor Castle.

 

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Pointing out memorabilia from the Queen's first visit to the Arab state in 1979, Prince Philip, 89, asked her flirtatiously: "You weren't born then, were you?"

In fact, the Sheikha – who is famed throughout the Gulf for a designer wardrobe, which was on show recently during a trip to France as the guest of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy – was born in 1959, making her 51.

She seemed to appreciate the compliment however, responding with a smile: "Yes, I wasn't born then".

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The Sheika was married at the age of 18 and has borne seven of her husband's nearly 30 children.

During the couple's visit the Emir – Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani – was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, while his wife was made a Dame of the British Empire. 

The British monarch received an 18-carat gold casket encrusted with diamonds, amethysts and pearls, from her visitors while the Duke's gift was a statue of a horse on a clock base.

 

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This will not have made a dent on the Gulf ruler's finances. While he controls a territory that is only a fraction the size of the UK, his personal wealth at £1.5billion is over five times that of the Queen.

The Gulf ruler also has sizeable business interests in Britain.

He oversees his country's Qatar Investment Authority, the owner of Harrods and London real estate such as the US embassy building in Grosvenor Square.

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