Hundreds of members of the Armed Forces turned out for a spectacular ceremonial welcome to the UK for the President of the People’s Republic of China today (20 October 2015).
More than 1,100 soldiers and 230 horses joined Her Majesty The Queen, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Prime Minister, senior members of the Cabinet, the Lord Mayor of London, the Mayor of London, and senior military personnel for events to welcome President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan.
Weeks of preparation went into the events in London, which involved seven military bands and ten military units.
Horse Guards Parade was filled with immaculate lines of Foot Guards from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment Life Guards and Blues and Royals. A medley of British-themed music was played by the Band of the Grenadier Guards and the Band of the Household Calvary accompanied by their Drum Horses Adamas and Mercury.
As the President arrived through the central archway of Horse Guards onto the parade square, The Queen’s Life Guard, positioned on Whitehall, gave a salute and a trumpeter sounded. The National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China was played as the VIPs were driven onto the parade square and the Flagman raised the National Flag of the People’s Republic of China on the roof of Horse Guards.
With impeccable timing, ceremonial gun salutes were fired across London at the precise moment the President alighted from his car and placed his foot upon the first step of the Royal Pavilion at Horse Guards.
Gunfire and smoke caught the attention of the crowds as The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun salute from Green Park and The Honourable Artillery Company simultaneously fired a 62-gun salute from Her Majesty’s Tower of London.
Meanwhile at the Royal Pavilion, The Captain of the Horse Guards Guard of Honour, Major Benjamin Jesty of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, marched forward and presented his Guard of Honour to the Chinese President. He said to the President, in perfect Mandarin:
The Guard of Honour of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards is present, formed up and ready for your inspection, Sir.
The Queen then invited the President to inspect the Guard of Honour, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh. All three departed from Horse Guards Parade in a carriage procession, escorted to Buckingham Palace by The Sovereign’s Escort.
Along the route, The Mall was lined by troops from Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards, Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards, F Company Scots Guards and 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. Music was played by The Band of the Scots Guards at Marlborough Road and the Band of the Irish Guards at the Duke of York Steps.
On arrival at Buckingham Palace, a Guard of Honour from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards were formed up in the Quadrangle commanded by the Captain of the Guard, Major Euan Mathieson, with musical support from The Band of the Welsh Guards.
Dismounted troopers from The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment lined the stairs for the arrival at the Palace.
The Armed Forces will provide support for various future elements of the President’s State Visit to the UK, which is due to continue until Friday, 23 October.