The fashion world gained a new Anglo-French alliance last night as France’s first lady Brigitte Macron and Queen Camilla stunned in navy gowns as they dined at the Palace of Versailles.
The Queen, 76, paid charming homage to the country hosting her state visit, opting for not an English designer but French fashion house Dior to create her caped banquet gown.
Brigitte, 70, in turn opted for the same designer to produce her elegant floor-length frock with sheer sleeves and gem-encrusted cuffs and collar as she and President Emmanuel Macron.
The elegant ladies were a power duo on the red carpet as they joined Mr Macron and King Charles on the red carpet for the state banquet.
The Queen, 76, and France’s first lady Brigitte, 70, shared a sweet moment on the red carpet ahead of the State Banquet at the Palace of Versailles last night
In a sweet moment, the French first lady was pictured adjusting Queen Camilla’s bold navy cape on the way into the Palace.
As the state-like foursome were joined by a cohort of exclusive guests at the banquet, including Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, they dined on lobster, crab and 30-month aged comté cheese.
As she arrived in France earlier on the day, Queen Camilla did pay tribute to British designers, opting for a gorgeous pink coat dress by Fiona Clare, while Brigitte was chic as always in a Saint Laurent navy suit with cute detailing in anchor buttons.
But at the Palace of Versailles, the pair coordinated, although their dresses were different enough not to amount to a full twinning effect.
Much like Brigitte’s sheer sleeve on her long Dior dress with bejewelled collar, Camilla’s cape allowed a flattering flash of flesh without revealing too much. And the cape’s trailing tails provided the drama befitting a new monarch.
Brigitte Macron and King Charles shared a toast of bubbly inside the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles
The King and President Macron looked statesman-like as they shared a four-course meal
The lack of embellishment made for an ideal canvas for the Royal Collection’s most dazzling jewels – the sapphire necklace, bracelet and earrings given to the late Queen by her father George VI as her wedding present.
Among the celebrity guests, Mick Jagger’s partner Melanie Hamrick chose London designer Jenny Packham; actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, Saint Laurent. The latter’s choice was natural – she is the face of its new campaign, after all.
Photographs from inside the palace yesterday showed the final preparations as they got underway for the state banquet.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said the dinner echoes the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1972, when she was greeted at the Palace by President Georges Pompidou.
The King and Queen joined Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron at the Palace of Versailles for a state Banquet
Usually filled with a chaotic crowd of tourists from across the world, the Hall of Mirrors was closed to visitors yesterday as staff prepared for the royal banquet.
Photographs taken from inside the Palace showed how the Hall of Mirrors was filled with banquet tables lined with crystal glasses, beautiful china and polished silverware.
Workers were seen placing the final touches on the table settings as guests begin to arrive. Hugh Grant and Mick Jagger lead the celebrity arrivals heading to the Palace this evening for the banquet.
Charles’ visit makes one more date in the Palace’s long history starting from King Louis XIII, to the French revolution and all the way to modern times that is being presented on its ground floor into the newly opened Gallery of the History of the Palace.
Catherine Pégard, president of the Palace of Versailles, praised the ‘never-ending story’ of the palace that ‘includes visits from French children who come to Versailles with their classes, as well as visits from His Majesty the King of England or tourists who arrive from Asia and are less familiar with the history.’
‘And we have a story to tell each one of them,’ she added.
The palace has recently opened a gallery retracing its history, from its creation as a modest hunting lodge in 1623 to last century’s key diplomatic events – including the visits of Charles’ predecessors.
The gallery has 11 rooms, each thematic and largely chronological, presenting over 120 works aimed at providing visitors from across the world with an immediate understanding of the complex history of the palace.
It brings together recently acquired works alongside paintings and artworks that for many years had gone unseen as they’d been in storage, along with others that are now repositioned and better enhanced.