Britain's Queen Elizabeth II hosts a a State Luncheon on the first day of the state visit of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle, Berkshire, west of London on April 30, 2013. Image Credit: AFP

London: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Tuesday attended a formal state banquet hosted in his honour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdomat Windsor Castle, her residence west of London.

It was the first formal engagement of the President's state visit to the United Kingdom, which began on Tuesdaymorning.

The banquet was attended by the delegation accompanying the UAE President and by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's consort, as well as by other members of the British royal family, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, other British ministers and senior officials.

The UAE President introduced the members of the official delegation accompanying him to Queen Elizabeth and the Duke, while guests from the British side were also introduced to the President.

In a speech of welcome, the Queen said that she was 'delighted' to welcome Shaikh Khalifa.

"Our two countries have been close friends since before the foundation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, under the wise guidance and leadership of your late father, Shaikh Zayed," she said.

Saying that she and her husband fondly recalled their visits to the UAE in 1979 and 2010, she added:"We were struck by the warmth of the welcome we received and the generosity of Emirati culture."

Queen Elizabeth went on to tell the President that "your visit this week is a chance to celebrate the depth of our partnership –apartnership that continues to grow and strengthen."

"This has never been truer than it is today and I am delighted with how our ties have developed, spearheaded by the UK-UAE Taskforce. And I look forward to these ties deepening as we develop our strategic partnership for the next generation. "

"Co-operation between our two nations, " the Queen continued, "now ranges from our thriving educational and tourism links, joint defence projects, security and foreign policy issues, to our increasing investment in each other's economies. The UAE is one of our largest trading partners in the Gulf region, and we have welcomed Emirati investments in the United Kingdom in many areas from the construction of the largest port facilities in the UK to the Emirates Skyline, the spectacular cable-car crossing over the (River) Thames and, of course, Manchester City."

"Our friendship," Queen Elizabeth added, "draws strength from the continuing links between our Royal Families, our governments, and our peoples. And it is based on a shared sense of ambition. "

"I hope, Your Highness," she told Shaikh Khalifa, "that as a result of this visit, our two nations will build on this historical and successful foundation and continue to work together to create a more productive and secure future."

She concluded by proposing a toast "to His Highness the President and to the health and prosperity of the people of the United Arab Emirates."

In response, President Shaikh Khalifa expressed his "very great pleasure" at joining the Queen for the occasion, thanking her "for your kindness and your most courteous invitation."

"As the long-standing and historical relationship between our two countries continues to develop positively in all fields, I would like to express my deep gratitude for your cordial visit to the United Arab Emirates in 2010, which left such a good impression on us."

"We shall strive to develop further the long-established bilateral relations that exist between the United Arab Emirates in all fields, in order to achieve the interests of our two friendly countries," Shaikh Khalifa said.

"Indeed, it is my hope that this current visit serves to reinforce our deep-rooted and steadfast friendship that has continued for many years."

"Your Majesty," he added, "please allow me to express once again my delight with this visit, as well as my confidence in the future prospects of the distinguished bilateral relations between our two friendly nations."

Shaikh Khalifa concluded by inviting guests to make a toast to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and to the health and prosperity of the people of the United Kingdom.

Music during the banquet was provided by the band of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

Following the banquet and an exchange of gifts, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh accompanied the President to the Sovereign's Entrance to Windsor Castle to bid him farewell.

A royal salute was sounded and the Windsor Castle Guard presented arms as the President passed. He later returned to his private residence in Richmond.