A lavish royal reception more than compensated for the grey skies overhead when Queen Elizabeth greeted Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - known simply as 'Lula' in his homeland - on Tuesday at the beginning of a three-day official visit.
And The Duchess of Cornwall and the Queen put on a dazzling display of gems from the world’s finest jewellery collection for a Buckingham Palace banquet in honour of the president which was attended by Prince Charles, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal and Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Camilla topped off her navy Robinson Valentine chiffon gown with one of the late Queen Mother’s favourite tiaras. Made by Cartier in 1953 from diamonds presented to Edward VII in 1901, it has a starkly modern design with a triple deck of diamond lozenges in a trellis pattern. On the Queen Mother’s death it went back into the royal jewel pool but has now been lent to Camilla.
But the 260 guests in the Buckingham Palace ballroom gasped at the sight of the Queen wearing the jewels presented to her by the people of Brazil on her coronation in 1953. Her necklace of square-cut aquamarines once had a pendant, which the Queen removed some years later to make it the centrepiece of a magnificent tiara which outshone every other in the room.
Over her white evening gown the Queen also wore the Order of the Southern Cross, another gift from the Brazilians on her first tour there in 1968.
Earlier in the day, huge crowds of well-wishers, many wearing Brazil football jerseys, had lined the streets of the capital as the visiting leader made his way to Horseguards Parade in the heart of the capital. Upon his arrival the 60-year-old was greeted by the Queen and Prince Philip, who joined him and his wife in horse-drawn carriages for the ten-minute trip to the palace. Both the sovereign and her VIP guest were seen chatting warmly and laughing as their cavalcade snaked its way through the streets of the city.