Kisses and camaraderie at the world's most exclusive lunch18 MAY 2012
It's not often that you see the Queen on such relaxed and convivial form.
Outside members of her own family, these are probably the only people on the planet that have an insight into her unique life.
So, there was a lot of warmth and a few kisses when members of the world's most exclusive club gathered at Windsor.
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A grand total of 62 royals – including 12 queens, 12 kings, an emperor, a grand duke and a sultan – enjoyed lunch at her Majesty's favourite residence.
It has been at least ten years since this many crowned heads of state were in one room – the last time being at the Queen Mother's funeral in 2002 and at the Golden Jubilee lunch the same year.
This time around 12 members of the sovereign's family were on hand to welcome the elite group.
Among them were Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge who chatted animatedly with the Prince Albert of Monaco and his wife Charlene.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Edinburgh exchanged witticisms with Sheika Mozah, who is the wife of the Emir of Qatar.
The elegant Middle Eastern royal is a favourite acquaintance of his from her last visit to Britain.
Representing Scandinavia were Carl Gustaf of Sweden and King Harald of Norway, who has family ties to the Windsors.
His grandmother, Queen Maud, was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
And there was a particularly affectionate greeting for Beatrix of the Netherlands, who along with Denmark's Queen Margrethe is one of three reigning female sovereigns in the world.
Having made the long trip from Japan, Emperor Akihito also looked pleased to enjoy British hospitality with his wife Empress Michiko.
A British menu, featuring locally-sourced ingredients, was prepared for the VIPs.
To start, there was tartlet of poached egg with English asparagus.
This was followed by a main course of new season Windsor Lamb with braised potatoes, artichokes, peas, carrots, broad beans, cabbage, and a tomato and basil salad.
The meal concluded with Kent strawberries and vanilla Charlotte, with fruit and cheese also available.
There's been some controversy about the guest list, with human rights groups expressing concern over some attendees.
But Buckingham Palace said that the Queen consulted the Foreign Office over whom to invite.
The private event will be followed by a dinner at Buckingham Palace hosted by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The Queen's colleagues with year of succession
- 1. 2006 Kuwait: Emir Sabah al-Ahmad
- 2. Abu Dhabi: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
- 3. Yugoslavia: Crown Prince of Yugoslavia
- 4. 2012 Tonga: King Tupou VI
- 5. 1946 Thailand: Son of King Bhumibol Adulyadej
- 6. 1999 Morocco: Sister of King Mohammed VI
- 7. Saudi Arabia: Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, Ambassador to the UK
- 8. 2005 Monaco: Prince Albert II
- 9. 2000 Luxembourg: Grand Duke Henri
- 10. 1996 Lesotho: King Letsie III
- 11. 1993 Belgium: King Albert II
- 12. 1991 Norway: King Harald V
- 13. 1995 Qatar: Emir Hamad bin Khalifa
- 14. 1999 Jordan: King Abdullah II
- 15. 1999 Bahrain: King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
- 16. Malaysia: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
- 17. 1989 Japan: Emperor Akihito
- 18. 1980 Netherlands: Queen Beatrix
- 19. 1972 Denmark: Queen Margrethe
- 20. Greece: King Constantine
- 21. Romania: King of Romania
- 22. Bulgaria: King Simeon
- 23. 1977 Brunei: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
- 24. 1973 Sweden: King Carl Gustaf
- 25. 1986 Swaziland: King Mswati III
- 26. 1989 Liechtenstein: Prince Hans-Adam II