THE storm clouds had fled and the skies cleared to a twilight rosiness when the Union flag was lowered at Government House last night. The Prince of Wales, the last Governor of Hong Kong and hundreds of dignitaries stood in the summer warmth, while the darkening garden filled with sound from the Royal Hong Kong Police bands and pipe bands. Standing in the pool of tranquillity, while Hong Kong raced on outside the high stone walls, were former prime minister Lady Thatcher, who signed the 1984 Joint Declaration, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and former foreign secretaries Lord Howe and Lord Hurd. More than 500 guests included Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming, who will lose his seat with the dissolution of the legislature at midnight tomorrow, High Court judges, senior police and British Armed Forces officers and university vice-chancellors. Governor Chris Patten, standing before the bagpipers with his wife, Lavender, and daughters Kate, Laura and Alice, proposed the Loyal Toast to the Queen. Later in the evening, VIPs crowded the decks of the Royal Yacht Britannia as Beating Retreat was staged. Prince Charles had earlier held a banquet on board the Britannia for many of the international guests assembled for the handover. Nearby, at the Prince of Wales Barracks, the PLA's advance party continued preparations for tomorrow's handover of the military site.