She’s got a national anthem that asks God to save her, lives amid priceless treasures and is so widely known that when people in, say, Mali, talk about the Queen, everyone knows there is only one sovereign: Her Majesty Elizabeth II. She inhabits a rarified world unknown to all but a few, so it was only fitting that just 22–some related to her in ways only genealogists can decipher, and good friends–gathered on Friday at Windsor Castle for a lunch to celebrate her 60 years on the throne. King Harald V kissed her on both cheeks and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands threw out her arms before greeting her fellow sovereign. Some have long been out of power (King Constantine of Greece), while others lead tiny statelets (Prince Albert of Monaco), but they all belong to the most exclusive club in the world. Protocol officials must have gone mad trying to figure out who sat where, but that didn’t seem to matter for the invitees as kings mingled freely with queens, grand dukes, ruling princes and emirs.
And when that many leaders are in one place there is bound to be controversy. King Juan Carlos of Spain bowed out after breaking his hip in an expensive, and controversial, African safari, while his wife Sofia was ordered by her government not to attend in protest of an upcoming royal visit to Gibraltar. Plus, there were protests over the extravagance of Swaziland’s ruler and the brutal rule of the emir of Bahrain.
Despite this, there is also a sense that the resulting photograph is one for the history books, and that such a gathering may not to be repeated for a very, very long time.
Here’s the list of regal attendees (excluding wives, heirs etc):
1. HM the Emperor of Japan
2. HM the Queen of the Netherlands
3. HM the Queen of Denmark
5. HM the King of the Hellenes
6. HM the King of Romania
7. HM Queen Elizabeth II
8. HM the King of Bulgarians
9. HM the Sultan of Brunei
10. HM the King of Sweden
11. HM the King of Swaziland
12. HH the Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein
13. HSH the Prince of Monaco
14. HRH the Grand Duke of Luxembourg
15. HM the King of Lesotho
16. HM the King of the Belgians
17. HM the King of Norway
18. HH the Emir of Qatar
19. HM the King of Jordan
20. HM the King of Bahrain
21. HM The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
22. HM the King of Tonga
The group photograph attendees are (front row, left to right) HM the Emperor of Japan, HM the Queen of the Netherlands, HM the Queen of Denmark, HM the King of the Hellenes, HM the King of Romania, HM Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, HM the King of Bulgarians, HM the Sultan of Brunei, HM the King of Sweden, HM the King of Swaziland, and HH the Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein. The middle row (Left to right) HSH the Prince of Monaco, HRH the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, HM the King of Lesotho, HM the King of the Belgians, HM the King of Norway, HH the Emir of Qatar, HM the King of Jordan, HM the King of Bahrain, and HM The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. The top row (left to right) HH Nasser Mohamed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, HH the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, HRH the Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, HM the King of Tonga, HRH the Crown Prince of Thailand, HRH Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.