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Duchess of Cambridge expected to attend state banquet for China's president

Published 11/10/2015

Diana wore the Spencer family heirloom at her 1981 wedding and on many other occasions
Diana wore the Spencer family heirloom at her 1981 wedding and on many other occasions

The Duchess of Cambridge is expected to attend her first ever state banquet at Buckingham Palace in just over a week's time.

Four-and-a-half years after she became an HRH, Kate is widely anticipated to be preparing herself for her inaugural appearance at what is considered a staple royal duty - dining in the opulent palace ballroom with 170 guests in honour of a visiting president.

As the royals entertain the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the Duchess is likely be seated in a prominent position on the grand horseshoe-shaped table.

Female members of the Royal Family dress in evening gowns and wear tiaras - often loaned to them by the Queen. They also display their family orders - miniature portraits of the Sovereign set in diamonds suspended from a ribbon - pinned to their left shoulder.

There is speculation the Queen may now have given Kate the Elizabeth II family order - a jewel encased image of the Queen on a chartreuse yellow ribbon.

The Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal and the Countess of Wessex have all been presented with the order. Diana, Princess of Wales received it early in her marriage, but Sarah, Duchess of York was never given one.

It will only be the third time Kate has been seen in a tiara. She wore the Cartier Halo Tiara for her wedding in 2011 and later was pictured in the Papyrus Tiara which belonged to Princess Margaret at the Queen's annual diplomatic reception at the Palace in 2013.

But which tiara will the Duchess choose for her debut state banquet appearance?

:: The Spencer Tiara

Kate could select this tiara in tribute to the Duke of Cambridge's mother. Diana, Princess of Wales, wore the Spencer family heirloom at her wedding to the Prince of Wales, and many times after.

The piece has an elaborate design of stylised flowers decorated with diamonds in silver settings. It was looked after by William's uncle Earl Spencer until William and Harry both turned 30 when it was inherited by the princes. Earl Spencer once recalled how the tiara gave Diana a splitting headache on her wedding day because she was not used to wearing it.

:: Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara

Kate might choose this in a nod to her title of Duchess of Cambridge. It was given to Diana, Princess of Wales, by the Queen as a wedding gift in 1981 and she wore the piece often.

The diamond and pearl-encrusted tiara was made in 1914 and has a strong French influence with a neo-classical design of 19 diamond arches, each cradling an oriental pearl drop.

It was designed by the Queen's grandmother Queen Mary and based on one owned by Mary's grandmother Princess Augusta who married the first Duke of Cambridge.

Another option similar to the Cambridge Lover's Knot is the Vladimir Tiara which also features dropped pearls but has 15 interlaced diamond circles instead.

:: Cartier Halo Tiara

The two previous tiaras worn by Kate have been understated compared to many of the towering headpieces.

She may opt for what she already knows and is comfortable with and pick her wedding tiara again. Diana often wore her own wedding tiara to banquets.

The little known "Halo" tiara - also known as the Queen Mother Scroll Tiara - was loaned to Kate by the Queen for her 2011 nuptials.

It was made by Cartier in 1936 and bought by the Queen's father, then the Duke of York, for the Queen Mother, then the Duchess of York. The tiara was given to the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, by her mother on her 18th birthday.

Kate could even borrow the Papyrus Tiara - also known as the Lotus Flower Tiara - again after wearing it in 2013. It is made of diamonds in fanned motifs crowned by floating diamond arches. It was owned by the Queen Mother, who used to wear it low on her forehead, and was later given to Princess Margaret.

:: Strathmore Rose Tiara

A demure choice would be the Strathmore Rose Tiara which belonged to the Queen Mother and was a present from her parents in 1923. It can be worn on top of the head or across the forehead as a bandeau. But the delicate floral design has not been worn in public for many years.

:: Queen Alexandra's Russian Kokoshnik Tiara

If Kate wanted to go all out and pick one of the largest tiaras she could opt for this impressive fringe headdress. Formed of 61 platinum bars and bejewelled with 488 diamonds, it was a gift to Alexandra on her silver wedding anniversary in 1888 and is based on a Russian-style peasant girl's head wear which was in fashion at the time.

:: There is one tiara Kate is unlikely to be loaned - the Queen Mary's Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. This is one of the Queen's favourites and she may be wearing it to the banquet herself.

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