Charles and Camilla host Lionel Richie at first garden party as King


Lionel Richie was one of the guests of honour at King Charles’ first garden party at Buckingham Palace days before he performs at his Coronation.

The top-hatted troubadour, 73, met the King and Queen Consort in the glorious sunshine touching Camilla on the arm as he introduced her to his girlfriend 32-year-old model Lisa Parigi.

Camilla, wearing a striking Bruce Oldfield dress with a Philip Treacy hat, said “lovely to see you” to the Hello singer as the pair laughed together.

Charles took off his top hat as he chatted to the American Idol judge at the first garden party he has hosted as King, which saw 8,000 well-wishers attend.

He told reporters: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To be a part of it is everything.

“I've known His Majesty for a couple of years, so it's fun to be here.”

Richie, who has been involved with the Prince's Trust as an ambassador since the 1980s, praised the King's work.

He said: "Believe it or not, he cares. He's hands on."

Although Richie did not give anything away about his upcoming performance at the Coronation Concert in Windsor on Sunday, he said he was "excited" about the event.

Lionel Richie and Lisa Parigi meet Charles (REUTERS)
Lionel Richie and Lisa Parigi meet Charles (REUTERS)

He said: "Are you kidding me? This doesn't happen every day. So, am I excited about this? Absolutely. This is not like any other time in life or any occasion.

"Once the lights hit and the music starts it's just going to be magical.

"I have to pinch myself. We're walking in history."

The King and Queen Consort were in good spirits as they shook hands and chatted with invited guests and charity representatives.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence was also among the guests at the garden party on Wednesday afternoon and the King took time to speak with her and her family.

Camilla wore a navy and white Bruce Oldfield dress and Philip Treacy hat, while Charles wore a morning suit with a top hat.

Lionel Richie and Lisa Parigi attend a Garden Party, (REUTERS)
Lionel Richie and Lisa Parigi attend a Garden Party, (REUTERS)

Police officers commended for acts of exceptional bravery also attended, alongside Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.

They included 20-year-old Petra Lopes, who was awarded for her quick action at a shooting last year.

Ms Lopes said: "It was such an honour. I can't wait to tell my friends about it. It was really nice to meet him."

The Queen Consort also met John Aitchison, 99, who was a dispatch driver with the Royal Artillery in Normandy during the Second World War.

Mr Aitchison, from Castle Douglas, Dumfries proudly showed photographs of himself from his Army days to Camilla, who congratulated him on his service.

There was a light-hearted exchange between the King and one guest who told him they were born on the same day.

He quipped: "Really? Surely not. You look younger than me."

The Royal Voluntary Service is a national charity which organises volunteers who support individuals, communities and the NHS in health and social care.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Originally founded in 1938 to recruit women into the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) movement, in February 2023 it launched the Coronation Champions awards to honour volunteers from a range of backgrounds who contribute to varied causes.

Winners were chosen by a judging panel presided over by Camilla.

The formal coronation ceremony for Charles, who became king on the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth last September, will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, May 6.

The following day attention turns to Windsor Castle, west of London, where 20,000 members of the public and special guests attend the concert, which will also be broadcast on television and radio.

Katy Perry and Take That will also star in an eclectic lineup which also includes opera star Andrea Bocelli, singer-songwriter Freya Ridings, Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, and classical-soul composer Alexis Ffrench.

The show, hosted by Paddington and Downton Abbey actor Hugh Bonneville, will see Hollywood star Tom Cruise, Dynasty actress Dame Joan Collins, adventurer Bear Grylls and singer Sir Tom Jones appear via video message.