Offering English cheese to French politicians, diplomats and Parisian high society might seem like a challenge.
But when two chefs carried out a picture of a crown made up entirely from cheese balls, tomatoes and cucumber, even the most formal guests had to smile – and that included the Queen of England.
The summer garden party held at the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris on Thursday in honour of a State visit to France for Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, was like a scene from Alice in Wonderland.
The drizzly Paris weather turned miraculously fine, with a deep blue sky above the grand residence. The lawn was bright green, the grass a little damp and a challenge for those women foolish enough to wear high heels.
Military figures wearing full decorations competed with a band in full regalia. They performed marching music in front of the royal couple, who were sitting on red satin thrones of chairs.
The Queen wore an off-white dress woven with knots of sparkling threads
The news that Her Majesty would not be wearing her habitual hat frightened off most women from wearing fancy headgear. The Queen wore an off-white dress woven with knots of sparkling threads, re-cycled from the outfit worn at the 2012 Diamond Jubilee for the river pageant. (So it is not just Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who is thrifty with her wardrobe.)
The dress was from Angela Kelly, who has brought a new dynamism to the Queen’s wardrobe.
In fact, there had been a series of outfits on Thursday, starting with a white coat with back hat to celebrate 20 years of Eurostar, the railway tunnel under the channel.
That coat was peeled off to reveal a black and white suit with white hat for the arrival in France. Then there was a pink suit for the ceremony at the Paris Arc de Triomphe.
Angela Kelly was present at the garden party, along with the Queen’s personal hairdresser Ian Carmichael, who had had turned the royal bob into regal silver.
British fashion designers invited for the event, included Clare Waight Keller of Chloé, who was also wearing white, and Phoebe Philo of Céline, who came with Lee Radziwill, the sister of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
According to Kelly, there was royal splendour to come for the dinner at the Élysées Palace on Friday, after the solemn visit to Normandy to commemorate 70 years since the Allied invasion which led to the end of World War Two.