Thursday, 17 February 2011

President Obama to pay state visit to Britain

Buckingham Palace and the White House today announced that US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will pay a state visit to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Britain on 24-26 May. The state visit will take place in London, where the Queen will be in residence at the time (state visits take place in Windsor if they fall during a time of the year when she is in residence at Windsor Castle). The President will continue on to the G8 summit in France.
It is not very common at all that US Presidents make state visits to Britain. The first President to do so was actually George W. Bush in 2003, at a time when it was important for Britain and the USA to stress their “special relationship” following their joint attack on Iraq. The last US President before Bush to stay at Buckingham Palace was Woodrow Wilson in December 1918, but that was not labelled a state visit.
But there has of course been plenty of less formal presidential visits to London and Queen Elizabeth II has during her 59 years on the throne met every American President except Lyndon B. Johnson. President Eisenhower visited her in 1959, Kennedy in 1961, Nixon in 1969 and 1970, Carter in 1977, Reagan in 1982, George Bush in 1989, Clinton in 2000, and Bush Junior in 2001, 2003 and 2008.
Barack and Michelle Obama met the British Queen during the G20 summit in London in 2009 and Mrs Obama and her daughters also met the Queen during a private visit to Britain later that year.
Queen Elizabeth II has paid state visits to the USA in 1957, 1976, 1991 and 2007 and also visited the country in 1983 and 2010.

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