Obama and the Queen

Obama and the Queen


While meeting Queen Elizabeth II isn't exactly the most politically significant part of President Obama's trip to Europe, it's definitely one of the most interesting.  Sitting in long diplomatic meetings with heads of state doesn't quite capture the romantic imagination like having tea with the queen.

The Obamas were looking forward to the meeting, and the president said that the queen was one thing he loves about Great Britain.  "I think what the queen stands for and her decency and her civility, what she represents, that's very important," he told reporters.

The 30-minute exchange between Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama went smoothly overall.  The First Lady opted to shake the queen's hand, rather than curtsy, following the lead of every First Lady since Nancy Reagan.  

The queen and prince gave the Obamas a framed sterling picture frame of themselves, which is their customary gift to foreign dignitaries, and the Obamas gave the queen a video iPod with pictures from her 2007 trip to the U.S. and a rare songbook signed by Richard Rogers. 

While the presents from the Obamas were a definite step up from the DVDs given to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, they still have some work to do on their gift selections, especially since the queen already has an iPod.  Of course, this gift exchange would probably have gotten significantly less media attention if the president's staff had made a better gift selection last time. 

Gifts aside, according to Sky News, it was actually Prince Philip who made the biggest gaffe.  When President Obama mentioned meeting with foreign leaders earlier that day, Prince Philip asked, "Can you tell the difference between them?"  Given his history of inappropriate remarks, this is actually quite tame.  He is, after all, the subject of the book: Duke of Hazard: the Wit and Wisdom of Prince Philip  

All things considered, however, the meeting went well.  After earlier meetings with Chinese and Russian leaders, and the evening's dinner of salmon and lamb, prepared by Jamie Oliver (aka the Naked Chef) the Obamas have had quite a day. 

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