Obama Gets Royal Etiquette Lessons for Meeting with Her Majesty The Lizard Queen
Sun, 29 Mar 2009 18:40:30 / Miscellaneous
Barack Obama’s Team Prepare Etiquette and Gifts for President’s Meeting with Queen
Top advisers to Barack Obama are rehearsing the etiquette and debating what gifts the President will give to Queen Elizabeth when he meets the British monarch in London.
March 28, 2009
The gifts have been selected with extra care, protocol lessons on royal etiquette are being delivered and a week’s wardrobe of casual and formal attire set aside for a first lady who is also an international style icon. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle head to London on Tuesday to start their first overseas tour in office, accompanied by an entourage of several hundred aides, advisors, secret service agents and bodyguards and an imported cavalcade of armoured vehicles and helicopters.
A visit to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon is the formal showpiece of a packed working schedule of back-to-back summits – the G20 in London, Nato in Strasbourg and EU-US in Prague – plus and bilateral meetings with world leaders, including Gordon Brown in Downing St.
The Obamas will attend a private audience with the Queen in her personal apartments for nearly 30 minutes before joining other delegations for a reception in the state rooms. They are receiving advice on protocol for the encounter at the presidential retreat, Camp David, this weekend.
The White House is attempting to pick out an appropriate gift for the Queen that will reflect her long-standing links to the US, a Washington official told The Sunday Telegraph. The choice of present is the subject of intense scrutiny after Mr Brown received a box set of DVDs during his trip to Washington earlier this month – a gift widely seen as a snub to the leader of America’s closest ally.
But in words that will reassure Downing Street, deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough yesterday said that Mr Obama was seeking to rebuild America’s alliances abroad. “He will continue the cooperation with Prime Mnister Brown, underlining the importance of the special relationship,” he said. “The President very much looks forward to going to London. He has a great affinity for the city and the people there, a great appreciation for the historic relationship that we maintain.”
As well as the battery of military, intelligence and security personnel who always travel with the president, he will be accompanied by “mini White House” of logistical and political staff, as well as personal aides keeping him supplied with Nicorette gum and the flavoured iced-tea drinks to which he is addicted on the road.
Mrs Obama will have her own team as she prepares for a busy “First Wives Club” schedule arranged by Mr Brown’s wife, Sarah. She is expected to wear her characteristic mix of high street fashion from outlets such as J Crew, and new gowns by young American designers, to the different events.
The First Lady’s office have not said if she will be accompanied by her newly-selected hair stylist Johnny Wright, 31, a fellow black Chicagoan. Mr Wright has just moved to Washington from a studio in West Hollywood where he developed a celebrity clientele.
But at Mr Obama’s side is certain to be Reggie Love, his personal assistant and closest companion on the road. The imposing 6ft 5in figure works out with the president in the gym, shoots hoops with him on the basketball court and watches sports with him on the television at night in his hotel suite.
Mr Love is also trusted with keeping the president supplied with the gum that he chews to defeat his old cigarette habit and the flavoured drinks that always travel with him.
The presidential convoy of Kevlar-protected limousines, armoured cars, communication vehicles and ambulances as well as the hi-tech helicopter that will carry him from airports to embassy residences will be ferried to London and around Europe by a huge US air force transporter plane.
Air Force One lands in London on Tuesday evening. Mr Obama will meet Mr Brown one-to-one on Wednesday and also hold eagerly-awaited first meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Chinese president Hu Jintao.
On Wednesday evening, after the royal reception, the Prime Minister will host a working dinner for world leaders at Downing Street, while the spouses eat together separately.
Mrs Brown has also arranged a full schedule for the so-called “First Wives club” for Thursday while the G20 summit on the world economic crisis is held in Docklands. The details have not been revealed for security reasons, but the schedule is expected to include events linked to one of the charities she supports as well as highlighting London sights and culture.
Plans for the Obamas to enjoy the culinary talents of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver at his east London restaurant Fifteen and for a trip on the royal train were reportedly dropped because of security concerns raised by White House advance parties. Mr Oliver will instead cook the G20 leaders at Downing Street.
The Obama roadshow moves to Strasbourg on Friday for a two-day Nato summit celebrating Nato’s 60th anniversary and then on to Prague on Sunday for the EU-US summit. Mr Obama rounds off his schedule with a trip to the friendly Muslim state of Turkey as he tries to bolster American relations with the Islamic world.
After leaving London, he intends to mix business of state with some election campaign-style glamour as he tries to capitalise on ongoing popularity with European populace, There are plans for a town hall-style meeting at a sports arena in Strasbourg and the White House is looking for a site in Prague for his first major foreign policy speech. In Istanbul, he will visit the stunning Hagia Sophia, the famous Byzantinian church converted to a mosque under the Ottomans.