Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip greeted their visitors with the usual pomp and grandeur expected, while a 41-gun salute was held in nearby Green Park. Prime Minister David Cameron was also on hand to welcome the visitors.
The Queen described President Xi Jinping’s State visit to Britain as a “defining moment” in the future of Sino-UK relations last night as the Chinese leader spoke of the “everlasting friendship” between the two countries.
Barely two years after full diplomatic relations were restored, Mr Xi insisted his four-day visit would lift the bilateral relationship to “a new height”.
The first day of his high-profile stay in the UK, during which £30 billion of trade deals are expected to be agreed, ended with a State banquet that reflected both the pomp and the pressure of a day in which tension was never far from the surface.