When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Buckingham Palace for a state banquet, he was no doubt delighted to find Kate Middleton dressed all in red like a walking version of China’s famous flag.
Wearing the Queen Mother’s tiara and dressed like a scarlet jezebel, Kate was an absolute vision in a garish red outfit, which dazzled in a way only a fiery frock can.
Taking pride of place at the head of the table next to Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Queen, Kate appeared to honor the controversial Chinese leader by selecting something from her wardrobe that appeared to resemble the flag of the People’s Republic of China.
Red is often seen as the color of blood, fire, anger, and wrath, and not usually the hue associated with the restrained and soothing blue that the Queen normally favors. However, the Duchess of Cambridge ploughs her own furrow, and if she chose to honor the visiting Jinping by flying China’s flag, one can only wonder if Kate is aware of the abysmal human rights record of the man they call “Big Daddy Xi.”
Of course, Buckingham Palace is no stranger to dictators and despots, and the Queen and Kate have something of a shared history of wining and dining unsavory types at the taxpayer’s expense.
Take, for example, Bahrain’s King Hamad Al Khalifa, a man who is to democracy what oil is to water. He shared a joke and lunch with the Queen way back in 2012. As did King Mswati III of Swaziland, who lives in luxury while many of his people starve.
The Mirror reported at the time that Denis MacShane, a former Foreign Office minister, said it was an uncomfortable position for the British royal family to be in.
“Given the amount of blood on the hands of the royal regime in Bahrain it’s a shame [King Hamad] will stain the white linen of Windsor Castle at this event.”
Fast forward three years and the Chinese president who rules over a country where human rights abuses are at their worst in a quarter of a century is welcomed in a red dress by Kate Middleton.
Liu Feiyue, the founder of China’s Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, could probably have told Kate a thing or two beforehand about her dinner guest, but it may have ruined the enjoyment of her meal.
Liu has explained, “The stability maintenance regime is getting stricter and stricter; you could say it’s getting more and more brutal, more and more inhuman.”
Since Daddy Xi has stepped up to the plate and led the charge, there have been more than 1,800 cases of arbitrary detention and torture of human rights activists. Amnesty UK have claimed that 245 lawyers have gone missing or are in custody as part of a campaign to silence criticism.
Kate may have been interested to learn, when she was busy toasting Xi Jinping and his wife, that according to Human Rights Watch, torture methods in China range from electric shock, sleep deprivation, starvation, freezing, and even the spraying of chilli oil.
Over the serving of Balmoral venison, Kate and Daddy Xi could also have debated China’s severe restrictions on the internet, which are so extensive it has been nicknamed the Great Firewall of China. Under Jinping, China also has a policy in place to detain and imprison activists whose internet postings are viewed more than 5,000 times or re-posted more than 500 times.
Instead, Kate and Daddy Xi probably exchanged pleasantries over the Fillet of West Coast turbot and smiled civilly at one another across the vintage port.
Kate, who was wearing the delicate Papyrus tiara, also known as the Lotus Flower and was kitted out in what the Daily Mail described as a “Jenny Packham dress in a fitting shade of red,” listened earnestly as the Queen told the guest of honor how much his visit meant.
“Your visit to the United Kingdom marks a milestone in this unprecedented year of co-operation and friendship between the United Kingdom and China, as we celebrate the ties between our two countries and prepare to take them to ambitious new heights.”
Following the communist leader’s arrival at Buckingham Palace in a gold carriage, he was gifted with a collection of Shakespeare sonnets from the Queen and, in return, presented Britain’s sovereign with two of his wife’s Madame Peng Liyuan’s rock albums.
During the course of the banquet, Daddy Xi appeared to warn the Queen, David Cameron, Kate Middleton, and other dignitaries that this was the U.K’s one chance to be partners with his country.
“As an old Chinese adage goes, opportunity may knock just once – grab it before it slips away. In Britain, you also have a famous saying: ‘A wise man turns chance into good fortune.”
The Chinese president then appeared to dismiss all criticism of his visit by snarling that China’s system of government was thousands of years older than Britain’s.
Prince Charles, who is a friend of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, pointedly missed the state banquet. An unshaven Prince Harry appeared to attend the event but, bizarrely, in a black puffa jacket.
It would appear that the wooing of the world’s second largest economy was left largely in the hands of the Queen and Kate Middleton. And in China’s eyes, the lady in red probably didn’t disappoint.
[Featured photo by Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images]