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This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

State Visits

A State Visit is a formal visit to the UK by a Head of State from overseas, with the aim of strengthening diplomatic, professional and personal relations between the two countries.

There are usually two incoming State Visits every year and each lasts three or four days.

Planning for a State Visit takes place approximately 12 months and is a coordinated effort between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the government and the Royal Household.

The Visit typically includes an intense series of engagements including meetings with ministers and leaders of commerce and industry.

A State Banquet for approximately 170 people is held on the first night of a State Visit.

Formal gilt-edged invitations are sent out two months before the event and preparations for the banquet begin several weeks in advance.

The Royal Chef is responsible for devising the menu for a State Banquet, which traditionally consists of four courses.

The Clerk of the Royal Cellars and the Yeoman of the Royal Cellars, in conjunction with the Head of Government Hospitality, choose the wine, which is selected to match the food once the menu has been approved.

The table is arranged in a horseshoe shape, with The Queen and her guest of honour seated at the top table.

The table is decorated with over 100 candles in silver-gilt candelabra, along with displays of seasonal fruit and 23 flower arrangements in silver-gilt centrepieces.

Map of state banquet visits

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.