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Tuesday, October 20, 2015, 23:00

Britain holds royal welcome for Xi

By Xinhua

Britain holds royal welcome for Xi
Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd left) and Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (2left back) inspect the guard of honour on Horse Guards Parade in central London on Oct 20, 2015 during the ceremonial welcome for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan on the first official day of a state visit by Xi. (AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS)

LONDON - A traditional ceremonial welcome held by British Queen Elizabeth II for visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off at noon Tuesday in central London with the presence of senior royal family members and political leaders.

The Chinese president and his wife Peng Liyuan had been greeted by Prince Charles on behalf of the Queen at their hotel and traveled with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremony.

Thousands of people have lined around the Buckingham Palace and surrounding routes since early morning to welcome and greet the president, who is the first Chinese head of state to visit Britain in 10 years, initiating a "golden time" for bilateral ties.

With 41 rounds of gun salute fired from Green Park and 62 from the Tower of London, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, bathed in rare London sunshine, formally welcomed Xi and Peng at the Royal pavilion on Horse Guards Parade.

Xi, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, inspected the Guard of Honor and later joined the Queen and the Duke for a state carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, with Chinese National Anthem being played.

Britain holds royal welcome for Xi
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II , right, greets Chinese President Xi Jinping, during the official ceremonial welcome for Xi's s tate v isit, in London , Oct 20, 2015. (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

After riding through cheering crowds in the golden and black Diamond Jubilee Coach, Xi enjoyed a private lunch at Buckingham Palace with the Queen and viewed an exhibition of items from the Royal Collection relating to China.

The enthusiastic welcome from the British side for the Chinese president is a "step forward for bilateral ties" and represents "the West and the East warmly embracing each other for a better future," said Fu Xiaolan, professor of technology and international development at Oxford University.

Closer cooperation between China and Britain could "raise the living standards of ordinary people" and "send more kids to school," she said, adding that Britain's "knowledge and creativity" will also help China in its future development.

In the afternoon, Xi and Peng will visit the Palace of Westminster, where the president will deliver a speech in the Royal Gallery to members of both Houses of Parliament and other guests.

The first couple of China will then enjoy tea time with Charles and Camilla at Clarence House, while Prince William and Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, are to call on the president separately at Buckingham Palace.

A State Banquet will be held by the Queen in the evening for Xi, where the two heads of state will both address the guests.

Britain holds royal welcome for Xi
(L-R) Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, China's First Lady Peng Liyuan, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and China's President Xi Jinping pose for photographers after arriving at Buckingham Palace in central London on Oct 20, 2015, during the ceremonial welcome on the first official day of the Chinese president's state visit. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / LEON NEAL)

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