Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon have joined US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill for an elaborate state dinner.
Follow along with Daily Mail Australia’s coverage of the evening here.
The PM received a warm official welcome complete with a marching band and 19-gun salute
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese received a warm welcome as he met US President Joe Biden at the White House, with both leaders announcing a “new era” of strategic alliance between the two countries.
A crowd of about 4000 people attended a flash opening ceremony for Mr Albanese on Wednesday. He was greeted by a marching band and a 19-gun salute.
Mr Albanese used his speech to stress the importance of Australia’s ties with the US and affirmed his goal to keep the Indo-Pacific region “free, open, prosperous and secure”.
“The relationship between Australia and the United States has never been more important – and, of course, it has never been stronger than it is right now,” he said.
“Our efforts through AUKUS are one of the many ways we are working together to deter aggression and support a free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable.”
Jill Biden has opted for a ‘low-key’ state dinner with Australia because of the ‘sorrow and pain’ in Israel
Jill Biden scrapped her plan to have the B-52s perform at the state dinner for Australia because of the ‘sorrow and pain’ being felt in the world.
Instead, the members of the band will attend the event as guests. Performing will be the president’s Marine Band and the Army and Air Force Strolling Strings, offering instrumental music for the evening.
The first lady didn’t directly reference the conflict between Israel and Hamas but the violence there has dominated the news the past week.
‘We are now in a time when so many are facing sorrow and pain, so we made a few adjustments to the entertainment portion of the evening,’ she said at a press preview of the dinner on Tuesday.
What gifts did the Prime Minister and President exchange with one another?
The White House showed it had done its homework on Australia’s music-loving prime minister with a gift specially tailored to suit Anthony Albanese’s amateur DJing skills.
US President Joe Biden, his wife Jill exchanged gifts with Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon in Washington on Wednesday, as they met for a private dinner ahead of the elaborate state affair.
Mr Albanese was given a custom signature turntable from a family-owned American audio manufacturer – a present ideal for the noted vinyl record enthusiast to spin some of his favourite tracks.
He also received an antique writing desk designed in 1886 while Ms Haydon was given by Dr Biden a green enamel and diamond necklace by an American jeweller.
In return the President Biden was gifted a painting by Australian Indigenous artist Katherine Boland that was created as part of a DFAT-funded project to support fire affected communities in both Australia and the UK.
Dr Biden was given a silk scarf and a painting by Indigenous artist of a group women gathered at Tjukurla in Western Australia with a sampling of bush foods they collected.
The First Lady also received a a silver leaf brooch jewellery by Melbourne designer Shimara Carlow.
More guests arrive for State Dinner
Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, the Founder and Managing Partner of Global Space Ventures, and Kinga Garriott de Cayeux were among the first arrivals.
Here, US-Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman and his wife Toby Perlman smile for a photo as they make their way in to the event.
Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Kristin Cooper are among the VIP guests.
350 VIP guests expected to attend Australian State Dinner in the US
Up to 350 guests are expected to attend a State Dinner held at the White House for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Guests have started filtering in as of 9am Thursday morning AEST.
Here is Alan Solomont, the former US Ambassador to Spain, and his author wife Susan.
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Australia state dinner: Lavish scenes at the White House as US President Joe Biden hosts ritzy state dinner for Anthony Albanese and Jodie Haydon