US President Barack Obama had hosted the 14th and final formal State Arrival Ceremony and State Dinner on Tuesday. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini were welcomed to the White House with a grand reception. According to an Associated Press report, “the final gala meant everything was big or bigger, from the personality of the guest chef (Mario Batali) who collaborated on the menu to the size of the white tent (huge) on the South Lawn where the soiree was held to the guest list (nearly 400 people).”
The event seemed like a perfect opportunity for Chief White House photographer Pete Souza to share glimpses from some of the other state dinners hosted by the Obama administration over the last eight years. “To mark the occasion, I’ve selected some photographs from these visits. In my edit, I focused mostly on the formal and behind-the-scenes situations from the ceremony and dinner rather than on the substantive meetings that also take place,” wrote Souza in a post on Medium.
He chose to begin his photo series with the image of former prime minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur being escorted by the Obamas. Singh’s visit to the United States on November 24, 2009 was the first official State Visit hosted by President Obama after he was voted into power. In the image, one could see First Lady Michelle Obama escorting Kaur while Obama walks with the former prime minister of India. However, there are no photographs from PM Narendra Modi’s state visit from June 2016 in Souza’s photo series.
Other photographs include glimpses from state dinners hosted for leaders like Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Chinese president Xi Jinping, Mexican president Felipe Calderón, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, former Britain prime minister David Cameron and Pope Francis. The photographer has also shared behind-the-scene images of the state dinners along with performances by Beyonce and US Marine Band.