Duchess Kate Dines with Despots

But at least she has Charlene to talk to.

By , Columnist

Queen Elizabeth II greets the King of Bahrain

On Friday, May 18, the Duchess of Cambridge joined her husband Prince William, Prince Harry, and other members of the Royal Family for a rare gathering of the crowned and dethroned heads of the world at a formal lunch to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. But the presence of certain rulers caused controversy, with protestors objecting to the inclusion of despots among the select few who dined at Windsor Castle.

The 26 monarchs, mostly accompanied by their spouses, enjoyed the typically English menu of tartlet of poached egg and asparagus, Windsor lamb with braised potatoes, vegetables and a tomato and basil salad, finished off with new strawberries, served with vanilla Charlotte.

The event was considered controversial as, along with the heads of constitutional monarchies, the Queen also invited the heads of repressive regimes.

The King of Bahrain was singled out for comment by human rights groups for the brutal ending of pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011. Criticised for living in luxury while his people go hungry was the immensely rich King of Swaziland who has 14 wives, although only one turned up for Prince Charles’s lavish dinner in the evening. Also present were the rulers of countries such as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia — not known for their gentleness with prisoners.

Although the presence of the dethroned King Constantine of Greece was to be expected as he is a close friend of the British Royal Family, the Queen also invited the pretenders to the thrones of Bulgaria and Romania, where the monarchies officially ended in 1946 and 1947 respectively!

If Kate found chatting to tyrants and pretenders difficult, at least she also had the gracious Princess Charlene of Monaco who married Prince Albert just a few weeks after the Duke and Duchess’s spectacular wedding last year. The two royal wives who are both under pressure to produce heirs were seen deep in conversation. Wonder what they talked about?

Kate wore a £1200 pale pink, knee-length Emilia Wickstead dress, which was judged absolutely right for the occasion. Statuesque Charlene, who has had her blonde hair cut short, wore an elegant pale turquoise silk suit.


In the evening, Prince Charles, who does nothing by halves, held a regal banquet for many of the same monarchs at Buckingham Palace. On the menu was twice-baked cheese souffle with baby leaf spinach, line-caught sea bass with coastal samphire and rhubarb Eton mess.

William, Kate, and Harry did not attend. The stars of the evening were Queen Rania of Jordan, who is looking very slim indeed for a mother of four, and Charlene, radiant in a Dior palest peach gown. Hostess Camilla, incidentally, wore a duck-egg blue gown by Bruce Oldfield, who used to be one of Princess Diana’s favourite designers.


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Margaret Holder has been writing about the Royal Family in newspapers and magazines for thirty years. She also broadcasts frequently on the BBC, both radio and television. She reckons she has now written more royal documentaries than anyone else in the world. Some are still being shown on channels in…

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