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UK rolls out royal pomp and pageantry for Xi

Updated: 2015-10-20 22:17
By WU JIAO in London and LI XIAOKUN in Beijing (China Daily)

UK rolls out royal pomp and pageantry for Xi

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Chinese President Xi Jinping are driven by carriage along The Mall to Buckingham Palace in London Oct 20, 2015.[Wu Zhiyi/China Daily]

A display of pomp and royal tradition welcomed President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan on Tuesday on the first day of a four-day state visit to the United Kingdom.

The visit, the first in 10 years by a Chinese head of state, is widely expected to cement economic ties between the two countries, with billions of pounds of investment deals expected in the coming days.

Analysts also said it offers a chance for leaders from the two countries to engage in deeper political discussions, as the joint relationship has been affected at times by issues including human rights.

The first day of the visit included Xi meeting with three generations of the British royal family and attending a private lunch and state banquet given by Queen Elizabeth II.

The day began with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall escorting Xi and Peng from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to Horse Guards Parade.

A welcoming ceremony featured more than 1,000 honor guard troops and a 103-gun royal salute — 41 guns in Green Park and 62 at the Tower of London — was staged on Horse Guards Parade before Xi rode in a royal carriage to Buckingham Palace, where he and Peng were to stay overnight.

Several royal family members and high-ranking officials joined the ceremony, with British Home Secretary Theresa May attracting media attention for her bright red hat and dress.

The route from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square was decked out in the flags of China and the UK in honor of Xi. Thousands of people lined the route to welcome the president, with many UK media organizations screening live broadcasts.

Before giving a state banquet in the evening, the queen hosted a private lunch for Xi at Buckingham Palace, where they were joined by other members of the royal family and the British and Chinese delegations.

After the lunch, they viewed an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to China. The queen and the president also exchanged gifts privately.

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