President Obama’s visit to London on a State Visit was one of the most extensive royal receptions I have ever seen in London. His speech to members of both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall was an honor granted to the President. He did a fantastic job stirring British hearts. He even identified himself as the grandson of a British army cook in Kenya during British rule who now stood before them in their greatest seat of power. Everyone enjoyed the comment and laughed. Woven throughout the speech, the President clarified the deep relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. During his visit, his entourage traveled from one location to another in a stream of cars that dazzled Londoners who couldn’t quite figure out who was in all those cars. The President stayed with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, but he brought along with him everything he might need including his own food. When this kind of information began to leak out, the jokes began. While I was standing in the Queen Gallery, one of the ushers was speaking to another usher and said that the President brought his own food because probably he was fearful someone would try to murder him in the Palace. Then a grin. When the President left London, I listened to a commentator on BBC who compared the Queen’s entourage with the entourage of the President.
The contrast between the British style and the President’s style began to be the topic of a lot of discussion, but the overwhelming impression was that the President and the Prime Minister had tied the knot. The President’s comment that the honor of speaking before both Houses of Parliament had been accorded the Queen, The Pope, Churchill, and Mandela and now to the grandson of a British Army cook in Kenya was an immense honor or a very funny joke brought the house down, but under that comment there was certainly a slight jab that no one was going to allow to ruin the importance and success of the visit.
But now that all that success is paying off for both Britain and the United States, the articles are beginning to appear in the British press, history books, and art world. This morning in London a painting appeared of Obama in a London gallery entitled FOR HIM WHO WOULD BE KING. Ouch!
The article I was waiting for finally appeared: an attack on the President’s travel style. I knew that after all the glamor and success of the State Visit, the British press would be on it like a pack of wolves. If the press attack the Queen for the most minor event like her purchase of a new car or a gift from a very rich Saudi Prince, I knew the British press would eventually have a hay-day with Obama’s visit. But, that is part of the job, isn’t it? When I read the article this morning from the British press, it did make me think. Obama’s vast presence in London certainly sent the message that the super power is in town. I fear that is exactly the subtle message we give everywhere we go. The British trump is one thousand years of diplomacy which has taught the world that the real message that is given is the subtle and inferred communications of diplomacy which sticks deep and remains. Just a few thoughts! I was in London, and I watched it all happen.
Thomas Moore email: TMooreSr@me.com Telephone: 801.791.9918