STATE dinners are a longstanding tradition, held by incumbent US Presidents since the 1870s.
Over 300 state dinners have been held in the White House to date.
What is a State Dinner at the White House?
A White House state dinner is a formal banquet hosted by the President of the United States and the First Lady to welcome heads of state during their visit to the country.
According to Matthew Costello, senior historian at the White House Historical Association, these dinners are more than just a show of hospitality. “It’s not just about food and entertainment, it’s about holding America’s alliances together,” he said.
These fancy dinners are usually planned six months in advance and cost an average of half a million dollars a year CBS News.
The White House has its own state dining room, specially set up for state dinners. It is designed for about 120 people or 40 couples.
When was the first formal state dinner held?
The tradition of the State Dinner at the White House dates back to 1874 when President Ulysses S. Grant hosted a banquet for King David Kalākaua of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
After President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned the expansion of the State Dining Room in 1902, dinners became more elaborate.
The Washington Post notes that during his two terms in office, President Ronald Reagan hosted the most state dinners, 56 in all.
The Trump administration had the fewest, housing only two. What could have been the third meeting with the King and Queen of Spain has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who are prominent guests of past state dinners?
Accordingly state.govthe incumbent President and First Lady help compile the guest list for state dinners, but the White House Social Services Office compiles the official list and sends out invitations to all guests.
In addition to the honored heads of state, officials from both countries and celebrities from the film, television, music, sports and fashion industries are also invited.
Below are some of the notable guests at past state dinners:
the late one Princess Diana was also a guest at the White House in 1985, although her visit there was not considered a state dinner but a private event.