Monday, May 23, 2011

Presidents & Royal Visits

Buckingham Palace Ballroom seats 170 for a lavish State Dinner that will occur for the Obamas on Tuesday.
State Visits are timed to the second, including cocktail chatter and making the receiving line move along like a well-oiled people conveyor belt.  Going to Buckingham Palace (it is not ham, but more like hum in England) has other dangers.  During a state visit at the Royal Dinner, once the Duke of Edinburgh gets his plate, by jove, you better dig in and finish rather like a champion hot dog eater because when he is done everybody's course is swooped up and replaced with what's next, regardless if you are done or not.  Each speech by either Head of State is no more that 9 minutes long.  Heckling by Her Majesty's husband if one does not conclude on time, is not unheard of at the head table.

The Obamas will stay officially at Buckingham Palace in the Belgian Suite.  The same suite the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used for their wedding night.

A State Visit to Britain is always initiated by the Queen.  Her Majesty usually gets a reciprocal state visit during a second presidential term in the USA. That means a white tie affair which is very formal. QEII has the world's best bling and she is not shy about wearing it at state affairs. (I'm still astounded that with all the ice head gear the royals have, Kate Middleton chose to wear a training tiara so to speak....) Laura Bush had an excellent table setting for that event, her husband however, made several notable public gaffes with the queen. Winking at Queen Elizabeth II  after calling her a couple of centuries old on one visit shall live in infamy among the protocol or those with home training skills.  Other people will scream about Michelle Obama hugging the queen on her first visit, yet they have struck up a warm friendship.  The Queen ensured Sasha & Malia Obama received a carriage ride through the gorgeous grounds for their first visit to Buckingham Palace.

The president and first lady usually stay at Winfield House while in England and will host a reception there during the state visit.  It won't be a "knees up" affair like the party the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge had after their big do at Westminster Abbey.  However, the newlyweds are expected to make an appearance on Tuesday to meet the Obamas, but Clarence House has yet to send out a formal message.

Every head of state gets a carriage ride after reviewing the troops.  The head of state reviews the troops with Prince Phillip then rides down the mall in a regal procession with liveried footman to Buckingham Palace with the Queen in a gilt carriage.  Lately the Queen has had more state events at one of her favorite palaces, Windsor Castle.  However, the Obamas are staying in Belgian Suite on the ground floor of the Palace.  Marine One will be nearby on the lawn.  So...not sure if that particular carriage ride is on. (This carriage is carrying the Queen and President Zuma of South Africa last year.)

One of my favorite anecdotes happened on this side of pond during President Gerald Ford's one term. He wanted to dance with a more lively number and the President's Band jumped in with ... The Lady is A Tramp...She laughed out loud.


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