U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Australian First Lady Jennifer Morrison are pictured ahead of a state dinner at the White House in Washington on Sept. 20, 2019. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
A glittering crowd of American and Australian luminaries gathered under the stars in the White House Rose Garden Friday.
The president and first lady Melania Trump welcomed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife, Jenny, to the White House for just the second state dinner of the Trump administration.
Just after midnight on Sept. 21, Trump tweeted: “I want to express my gratitude to America’s magnificent [First Lady] for tonight’s exquisite evening where we celebrated more than a century of loyal and devoted friendship between [the United States and Australia]. Both of our nations are blessed by uncommon courage, unfailing commitment, and unyielding character!”
Trump’s tweet was accompanied by a 1-minute video montage of the evening.
I want to express my gratitude to America’s magnificent @FLOTUS for tonight’s exquisite evening where we celebrated more than a century of loyal and devoted friendship between🇺🇸🇦🇺Both of our nations are blessed by uncommon courage, unfailing commitment, and unyielding character! pic.twitter.com/i61cHCZYlD
Shortly after, Morrison tweeted: “Thank you [President Donald Trump] and [The First Lady] for a wonderful evening.”
At the dinner, the first lady wore an aqua silk chiffon gown by J. Mendel with inserted pleats and bias-cut waves, the White House said. Morrison’s wife wore a midnight blue sequined halter-style gown, exposing her shoulders once she was inside the White House.
Dinner centerpieces were made using more than 2,500 yellow California roses and Australia’s national flower, the golden wattle, while the garden itself was decorated with white and yellow roses. Musical groups from the U.S. military provided entertainment.
Music could be heard across the South Lawn just below an illuminated White House as guests descended the outside staircases to join the garden party.
“It’s so beautiful, and it will be so different,” Trump said earlier Friday about his first state dinner in more than a year, noting that he had watched a rehearsal the night before. “And we look up to the skies, and we’re just going to hope that it’s not going to rain. And if it is, that’s OK, too, because that will work out also.”
Morrison, who has been in office for a little over a year, thanked Trump for the “tremendous honor.”
Guests at the state dinner included several Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, White House staff and an Australian delegation that included pro golfer Greg Norman.
On a big day for diplomacy, Morrison and his wife also worked in a State Department luncheon hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
At an afternoon news conference in the grand East Room, Trump said he and the prime minister “talked about everything you can talk about,” including military issues and trade. Morrison said he and the president share a “passion for jobs” and he commended Trump for his record on job creation.
Australia was last a recipient of a U.S. state visit in 2006 when President George W. Bush feted Prime Minister John Howard.
When it comes to state dinners, Trump has been the honored guest on state visits to Japan and Britain this year alone, in addition to other such visits in his first two years in office, including to Beijing on what China billed as a “state visit, plus.” Trump’s first state visitor was French President Emmanuel Macron last year.