LONDON - The red-and-white flag of Singapore flew proudly alongside the British Union Jack in central London on Tuesday, as President Tony Tan Keng Yam officially began his state visit to the United Kingdom to much fanfare.
Booming gun salutes, marching band renditions of Singapore's national anthem and a stately carriage procession flanked by royal horse guards were all part of the day's pageantry for Dr Tan, the first Singaporean president to make a state visit to Britain.
The morning began with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greeting Dr Tan at the Royal Garden Hotel where he was staying.
It was Prince William's wife, Catherine's, first public appearance in over two months, and she appeared healthy and cheerful, dressed in a gray coat with her hair in a ponytail. The royal couple is expecting their second child in April 2015, and the duchess has been suffering from acute morning sickness.
AFP reported that Mrs Tan told Kate she was glad she could make the engagement. The duchess replied: "So am I. I've been looking forward to getting out of the house, that's for sure."
Dr Tan and his wife, together with the royal couple, then went in a car procession to the Horse Guards Parade ground, where they were received by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
An 103-gun royal salute was fired from Green Park, the royal park nearest to the Horse Guards Parade, and from the Tower of London, a royal palace and fortress, as part of the ceremonial welcome.
The Queen, who wore a royal blue coat and matching hat, also presented to Dr Tan dignitaries including British Prime Minister David Cameron, secretaries of state, senior military officials, and top officials from the City of London.
Dr Tan then inspected the guard of honour, who were in their signature red tunics and towering black fur hats.
The President and his wife then boarded gilded state carriages, which brought them to Buckingham Palace, where they will stay until Thursday at the Queen's invitation.
The Queen rode with Dr Tan in one carriage and the Duke of Edinburgh with Mrs Tan in another.
Escorted by over 100 members of the Queen's household cavalry mounted on horses, the carriage procession moved off to rousing renditions of the Singaporean and British national anthems - Majulah Singapura and God Save the Queen.
A crowd had gathered to watch the ceremony.