In front of the King a guard of honour of the Welsh Guards and the Household Cavalry was drawn up on the square; the Guards band played stirring patriotic tunes such as the themes from Indiana Jones and Star Wars. As the King stepped out of his car they switched to the – mercifully short – Saudi national anthem as the green and white Saudi flag was unfurled atop Horse Guards alongside the Royal Standard.
Major Ben Ramsay, commanding the guard of honour, stepped forward and in fluent – so we believe – Arabic invited the King to inspect the Guardsmen. It is another Palace touch; state visitors whose mother tongue is not English are always issued with the invitation in their own language.
It all took ten minutes, the standard time for a formal arrival. The King, accompanied by his interpreter, climbed into the Australian State Coach with the Queen for the ride down The Mall to lunch at the Palace. His retinue followed in coaches and open landaus.
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