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Monarch displays sartorial diplomacy on key visit to Turkey

May 13, 2008
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Still a diplomatic powerhouse well into her ninth decade, the Queen has begun a highly symbolic four-day visit to Turkey, her first to the country in 37 years.

One of the earliest engagements undertaken by the 82–year-old royal, who praised the nation as a bridge between the West and Islam, was paying tribute to Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Laying a wreath at the tomb of the national hero in a gesture expected of all visiting dignitaries, the monarch hailed the late leader as "one of the great figures of modern history".

In another sign of respect, the Queen - who only wears black for the most sombre occasions - had picked out a dark coat and skirt ensemble, trimmed with a lime green French-pleating.

At her side was Prince Philip, participating in his first major engagement since being treated in hospital for a chest infection last month. Though he was seen coughing, leading to renewed speculation about his health, a Buckingham Palace spokewoman dismissed fears, saying: "The Prince is fine. If he was ill, he wouldn't have come".

At a banquet later that evening both the monarch and her host President Abdullah Gul chose to use their attire to underline the ties of friendship between their two countries.

Queen Elizabeth wore an unusual white gown decorated with beads in the form of grapes, alluding to Turkey's ancient winemaking tradition which was revived by Kemal Ataturk. The premier, meanwhile, had donned a tuxedo – the first time he's ever been seen wearing Western-style evening dress.

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Photo: ©
Making her first visit to the country in nearly four decades, the Queen, who was accompanied by Prince Philip, paid her respects at the mausoleum of the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
The Queen accompanies soldiers bearing the wreath she is to lay at the tomb Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Later that evening, the Queen - seen here with the wife of the nation's President Gul - wore a striking dress with a grape-pattern print. It was an allusion to Ataturk's revival of Turkey's ancient winemaking tradition Photo: © Rex

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