In the Public Eye

State Dinner for Italy's President Carlo Ciampi
Buckingham Palace, March 15, 2005

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh gave a State Banquet in honour of The President of the Italian Republic and Signora Ciampi, at which The Prince of Wales, The Duke of York, The Princess Royal and Rear Admiral Timothy Laurence, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were present.

Among those receiving a special invitation were "Mr. Colin Firth and Ms. Livia Giuggioli." Too bad, Colin has yet to be invested as a Commendatore (Knight Commander) in L'Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana or Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity, an honorific originally established in 1947 to recognize the achievements of Italians and foreigners who played a distinguished role in the reconstruction of Italy after World War II.  Colin's name was included among those announced by President Ciampi on January 7, 2005. It would have been smashing to see Colin's white tie and tails adorned with this:

Perhaps that ceremony is still on the agenda for the president's visit.

The Queen observed during her banquet speech that the British were enthusiastic admirers of Italian culture, fashion and food. She especially noted the generations of British archaeological efforts as well as those to save the city of Venice from sinking.

Despite her praise for Italian food, the Queen laid on a very British banquet. The distinguished guests dined on chicken and tomato soup, poached fillet of sea bass, saddle of lamb, new potatoes, carrots, broad beans, green and yellow baby squash, and salad, followed by vanilla and chocolate terrine, and dessert fruits.

According to the Press Association's court reporter Peter Archer, "she may actually have a liking for spaghetti bolognaise, but itis potentially too messy to eat in public and the Queen likes to treat her guests to traditional British fare."

The Queen toasted her VIP Italian guests with Bollinger, Grande Annee 1996 champagne. Other wines served were La Ina, Fino; Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Le Clavaillon, Domaine Leflaive 1998; Allegrini, La Poja 1999; and Fonseca 1970.

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