The goods news out of London is that Barack Obama has reaffirmed America’s “special relationship” with the U.K. The bad news is that the “affinity and kinship” that the U.S. president spoke of apparently only extends to England.
Mr. Obama’s first major foreign trip has been seen as a test not just of his leadership skills, but of his ability to navigate the protocols of diplomacy. In the U.K., that means mentioning the famous special relationship between the countries, which has been important here ever since Winston Churchill first referenced it after World War II.
On Wednesday at a joint conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Obama made a pass at acknowledging the special relationship. Unfortunately, he inadvertently broke a cardinal protocol by at one stage using England to denote U.K.
“We owe so much to England; that when you come here there’s that sense of familiarity, as well as difference, that makes it just a special place,” he said, leaving Wales, Northern Ireland and Mr. Brown’s home country of Scotland out in the cold.
But in a statement to make any republican-minded Scots wince, Mr. Obama conceded one thing he loved about the U.K. — the Queen.
On a related note, I am having a hard time envisioning Michelle Obama curtsying to anyone. (I *can* picture her demanding reciprocation.) How about you?
U.S. security personnel and advisers have already visited the palace to check the arrangements and take advice on protocol, such as the neck bow that Mr. Obama is expected to make, and the curtsy Michelle Obama will have been advised to deliver, a person familiar with the matter said.
Barack Obama met the Queen at Buckingham Palace today and gave her a gift of an iPod loaded with video footage and photographs of her 2007 visit to the United States. In return, the Queen gave the President a silver framed photograph of herself – apparently a standard present for visiting dignitaries.
The Queen already has an iPod, a 6GB silver Mini version she bought in 2005 at the suggestion of Prince Andrew.
More hilarity: A Queen music mix?
And confirmation that this was not a joke.