kate middleton at diplomatic corps reception

Everything you need to know about the Queen's glittering Diplomatic Corps palace reception

Tiaras and gowns galore!

Ainhoa Barcelona

Royal fans were treated to some extra special photos this week, when Prince William and Kate joined the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla at a state banquet held for the Dutch royals. The Duchess of Cambridge made a glittering appearance in a radiant blue dress, but the pièce de résistance of her showstopping look was her exquisite tiara.

Kate chose to wear an old favourite – the Lover's Knot tiara. And while it was a rare occasion for fans to see the mother-of-three in a dazzling headpiece, it won't be long before Kate steps out again in a tiara. She is expected to attend the annual Diplomatic Corps reception at Buckingham Palace in December, which is hosted every year by the Queen. Read on for everything you need to know…

Senior royals attend the Diplomatic Corps reception every December

What is the Diplomatic Corps reception?

The Queen always hosts a pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace for her extended family in the week leading up to 25 December, but at the start of the month, she also throws a lavish Diplomatic Corps reception at her London home. The palace doors are opened to some 1,000 guests including ambassadors, high commissioners, government officials and senior members of the royal family.

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It's an opportunity for the Queen to entertain members of the foreign Diplomatic Corps who live in London. Given the size of the party, all state rooms are in use, and the royal family proceed through them beginning from the great north doors of the Picture Gallery. Architect John Nash had envisaged all the large, double-mirrored doors to stand open to reflect the crystal chandeliers, creating more space and light.

It's the largest and most formal reception held at Buckingham Palace each year

Which royals attend the Diplomatic Corps reception?

Only the most senior members of the royal family attend the Queen's diplomatic party. In past years, Her Majesty has been supported by her husband Prince Philip, although the Duke was noticeably absent last December as he had officially retired. Prince Charles and Camilla, and Prince William and Kate also attend. Because Prince Harry is further down the line – now currently sixth-in-line – he does not make an appearance, and he and Meghan Markle are not expected to attend this Christmas.

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It's an opportunity for the Queen to entertain members of the foreign Diplomatic Corps

What is the dress code for the Diplomatic Corps reception?

It's the largest and most formal reception held at Buckingham Palace each year, so fans can expect guests to turn up in their finest. The strict "white tie and decorations" dress code means tailcoats for the gentlemen and full-length gowns for the ladies. Diamonds, tiaras, medals and Royal Orders are also showcased.

Last year, Kate debuted the Royal Family Order – a personal gift from the Queen. The Order is a special honour given to female family members as a thank you for their service. The brooch features an image of the Queen and Kate's is made from glass, rather than the traditional ivory. The Duchess wore it for a second time on Tuesday at the Dutch state banquet and is expected to wear it again in December.

Royals are usually pictured arriving by car

When is the Diplomatic Corps reception?

The reception used to be held in November, but in recent years the party has been scheduled for the first week of December. This year, it will be held on the evening of Tuesday 4 December. Fans usually catch a glimpse of the royals as they arrive at Buckingham Palace in their cars, or the family occasionally pose for an official photo.

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