President and First Lady Obama have arrived in the United Kingdom for a formal state visit. Scheduling their flight into Stansted early thanks to Grimsvotn, another misbehaving volcano in Finland, the Queen’s latest VIP guests missed being picked up by Prince Charles, whom he had hosted just a few weeks ago.
Instead, they met Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at Winfield House, official home to Louis Susman, the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, staying there overnight.
After a night with the ambassador, the Obamas move into Buckingham Palace
This morning, a limousine conveyed the Obamas to Buckingham Palace along a Mall lined with Union Jacks and Stars and Stripes.
At the Palace, following a standard recipe for state visits, the Queen and Prince Philip met Barack and Michelle Obama, with smiles all around. All four VIPs paused briefly on the red carpet for photographs, then went indoors where they were joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, fresh off their honeymoon.
Talking of honeymoons, according to The LA Times, the Obamas have been put up in an opulent six-room suite last used by William and Catherine on their wedding night. The bed, reportedly said a Palace aide, might not be the same one, however.
Body language from the photographs suggest that the Obamas did well with the younger royals, with Catherine seeming to show off her ring. She appared to respond to well First Lady Obama’s warmth and smiles.
Gun salute and guard-inspection for President and First Lady Obama
After about 10 minutes with Prince William and Catherine, the Obamas proceeded outdoors for a formal welcome. The President, accompanied by Prince Philip and Rory Shannon, Commander, inspected a Guard of Honor from the Scots Guard; The Belfast Telegraph reported that their 41-gun salute emanated from nearby Green Park. The couple also stood with hands on hearts as the Star-Spangled Banner played, followed by God Save The Queen.
A capricious wind wrought havoc with the ladies, causing both the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall to grab for hats normally held tight by pins, and forcing Michelle Obama to shove down her skirt lest she repeat Marilyn Monroe’s infamous act.
Royal Collection showcase include American-themed items, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
With dignity restored, all retreated inside for lunch. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were not present, but Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were there. Later, the Queen showed her guests a display of American-themed items from the Royal Collection; President Obama was reportedly fascinated by an entry from George III’s journal, in which he wrote that “America is lost!” — followed by musings on how to forge a new relationship with the country.
Also in the collection was something that should be filed under “What were they thinking”: several copies of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” once owned by Queen Victoria. With so many thousands of items in the Royal Collection, it must surely have been possible to find something more tactful.
Obamas visit British policians and lay wreath at Westminster Abbey
The lunch completed the first leg of the Obamas’ week-long European visit, which started in Ireland — the President seemed to enjoy his pint of Guinness there, unlike the unfortunate Prince Philip who declined to sup, perhaps because he didn’t want to show up at Government House with beer-breath.
The Obamas traveled to Westminster Abbey, where they respectfully laid a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
The Dean of Westminster gave them a private tour of the Abbey, then the VIPs went on to 10, Downing Street to visit Prime Minister Cameron and Samantha Cameron, referring to the “essential relationship” between both countries – no doubt the same kind of thing that King George III had in mind after he lost America forever.
- LA Times
- Belfast Telegraph
- ITN News
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