British State Visit to China, 1986

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were in the midst of an extensive six-day State Visit to China on this day in 1986 (35 years ago), that was among the most important State Visits of her Reign. Coming soon after the fractious negotiations about the return of Hong Kong to China, the first visit by a British Monarch to People’s Republic China was a symbol of skillful diplomacy and considered a milestone in Anglo-Chinese relations.

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The highlight of the visit was a spectacular State Banquet hosted by the Chinese Government in honour of the Queen (wearing an Ian Thomas gown decorated with tree peony blossom, the national flower of China, and the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara) and Duke of Edinburgh in the Hall of the People in Beijing, which was followed by cultural performances.

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Other events included a visit to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China, a Luncheon for Chinese Leader Deng Xiaoping, unprecedented access to the Terracotta Warriors at the Qin Shi Huang Museum in the Shaanxi Province, a visit to the Huating Temple in Kunming and the Children’s Palace in Canton before ending the visit in Shanghai.

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To mark the end of the State Visit, the Queen (wearing Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara and Parure) and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted a Return Banquet for President Li Xiannian and the First Lady of China on board the Royal Yacht Britannia in Shanghai, which included the entire Chinese Government as well as many spectators who watched spectacle of the Beating Retreat.

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One thought on “British State Visit to China, 1986

  1. Oh, my! The Queen looked fantastic in that pink Ian Thomas gown with the embroidered flowers. It was such a nice homage to her host country to have their national flower adorning it! She was wearing the Kent Amethyst Necklace and Earrings, one of the loveliest and most antique pieces of jewelry in the British Royal Collection. It matched perfectly with her gown! I know she’s a Queen and used to seeing wonderful things, but I’ll bet even she was impressed by the Terracotta Warriors, especially since she had the opportunity to appreciate close hand how unique each one of them is. They’re life-sized and are all individuals! China is such an ancient land with so many treasures, it was great that both she and the Duke were able to spend more than the usual two days on their visit. They were helped no doubt by the fact that they were on the Britannia, surrounded by all their personal things. It certainly makes travel easier, especially to such a different time zone!

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