It was quite a guest list. Day one of the Obamas' trip to Britain drew to a close with a state banquet at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen – featuring several Hollywood stars.Among the 171 guests present were Kevin Spacey, Tom Hanks and director Tim Burton and his partner Helena Bonham Carter.
A long day of public appointments had done nothing to dent the enthusiasm or energy of the high profile guests, who looked thrilled to be at the dinner. Her hair swept into a chic bun, Michelle looked stunning in a Tom Ford gown accessorised with white gloves and a jewelled clutch. Her look complemented the sovereign's attire - a white silk crepe evening gown with an embroidered Swarovski crystal motif on the bodice. Completing the look was the Grand Duchess Vladimir's diamond and pearl tiara, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee necklace and the Garter Sash and Star. Royal sources have spoken of a warm personal relationship existing between the the Queen and the Obamas, who are staying in the Belgian suite – the same one used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding night. And this was evident in the warm smiles being exchanged between the monarch and the couple – who seemed relaxed in each other's company. An orchestra struck up, playing a rendition of God Save the Queen as the guests of honour entered the palace ballroom with the monarch, Prince Phillip and other senior royals including Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles. Mr Obama nodded in greeting at the dignitaries and VIP guests who stood to welcome him. They were seated at tables arranged in a giant U shape, and set with six crystal glasses per person and gold plated cutlery.
Guests dined on sole with crayfish sauce, new Windsor lamb and fine wines. In her welcome speech Her Majesty spoke of her "fond memories" of first meeting Barack and Michelle ahead of the 2009 G20 conference in London. It was then, at a reception at Buckingham Palace, that Michelle broke royal protocol and put her arm around the Queen – only to have the monarch return the gesture and hug her back. For his part Mr Obama paid tribute to the Queen's "lifetime of extraordinary service to her nation and to the world". He also thanked her for the "warm friendship" she had extended and brought "warm greetings" from his daughters Mailia and Sasha. "(They) adored you even before you let them ride on a carriage on the palace grounds," he said – the anecdote bringing a smile from the Queen and a chuckle from the Duke of Edinburgh. He was speaking of last summer, when Michelle visited London with their girls and the trio were given a private three-hour tour of Buckingham Palace, including a meeting with the Queen.