Blundering Bush winks at Queen
When you’ve just made it sound like the Queen is more than 200 years old, there may be a few ways of recovering from the gaffe. But turning to her and giving her a sly wink is probably not included in any book of royal etiquette. Link to article
That’s what happened yesterday after George Bush mangled his greeting to the Queen on her state visit to the US, reports The Daily Mail.
Stumbling over his words, he came perilously close to suggesting that the monarch had toured the States in 1776.
And although the President’s following wink was initially rewarded with a regal glare, the Queen did at least seem to see the funny side of the blunder.
After the blunder the President paused and turned to the Queen to acknowledge his gaffe, joking that she “gave me a look that only a mother could give a child.”
Ripples of laughter echoed around those gathered at the event and the President laughed off the mistake and continued his speech.
The President is not the only international leader to have overstepped the royal mark, with then Aussie prime minister Paul Keating putting his hand on the back of the Queen during her visit to Australia in 1992, sparking outrage from monarchists.
The monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh flew into the American capital for a two-day stay – the finale of their East Coast trip the other side of the Atlantic.
They were officially welcomed by Mr Bush and his wife Laura on the lawn of the White House in front of 7,000 guests, from members of Congress to Oval Office staff.
The Queen will deliver a keynote speech before heading to a garden party at the British ambassador’s residence with Hollywood A-listers expected to be among the 750 guests.
In the evening, Mr Bush will don his white tie and tails for the state dinner as he and the First Lady pull out all the stops to entertain the royals. It is the first white-tie affair of the Bush administration.
But The New York Times has been pondering: “How does George W Bush, a towel-snapping Texan who puts his feet on the coffee table, drinks water straight from the bottle and was once caught on tape talking with food in his mouth, prepare for a state dinner with the Queen?
“With tips from an etiquette guide, of course – and a little gentle prodding from his wife.”
Mr Bush is the leader who once greeted Prime Minister Tony Blair with: “Yo, Blair. How are you doing?”
It is hoped that gaffe-prone President Bush will manage to host the state visit without any hiccups. He hasn’t been so successful in the past, however.
He once admitted to the Queen he was the black sheep of his family and then turned to her and asked “Who’s yours?”
The encounter came at the White House in 1991 when his father was in power. The Queen, wisely, did not reply. Barbara Bush stepped in and warned the monarch: “Don’t answer that.”
President Bush is known for his Texan drawl and informal approach and the Queen’s visit to Washington is the ultimate test of his manners and grasp of royal etiquette.
USA Today remarked today: “The Yanks will endeavour to impress the Brits, the true sultans of ceremony.”
The paper added: “Bush is famous for his opposition to formality and staying up late, but he is nevertheless going all out for the Queen.”
White House aides have apparently described the dinner in the Queen’s honour as the social event of the entire Bush presidency.
George Bush’s father, George Bush Snr, branded it “the hottest ticket in town.”
The Times remarked: “It will be closely watched by the social elite for its collision of cultures – Texas swagger meets British prim.
“Dinner attire is white tie and tails, the first and, perhaps, only white-tie affair of the Bush administration. ”
The president was said to be none too keen on that, but bowed to a higher power, his wife.”
Mr Bush apparently likes to be in bed by 10pm, but the entertainment will stretch well into the evening.
The Bushes have hosted four other state dinners – for Mexico, Poland, the Philippines and Kenya – but never opted for the white-tie dress code before.
The star entertainment is being kept under wraps.
During the Reagan years, Frank Sinatra sang for the Queen in 1983 on her trip to California.
The Queen danced with President Ford in 1976, but it is not known whether she will take to the floor with Mr Bush. Vice President Dick Cheney, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, defence secretary Robert Gates and General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, will be among the select 134 guests.
Mrs Bush will be wearing an Oscar da La Renta gown and her staff have co-ordinated with the Queen’s dresser to make sure their outfits do not clash, the Washington Post reports.
Mrs Bush knows the importance of pre-planning her wardrobe. Last year, three women showed up at a reception she was at in the same red de la Renta dress she was wearing, forcing her to rush off to change.
At the banquet, Mr Bush will sit next to the Queen at Table 12, while Mrs Bush will join Philip at Table 11.
The monarch’s dislike of spicy foods has been taken into consideration for the menu, personally selected by Mrs Bush.
The royal visit to DC is likely to be something of a distraction amid controversy over Mr Bush’s veto of Congress’s war funding bill which set a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from the Gulf. Washington has also been dealing with the fallout of the “DC Madam” sex scandal which brought the resignation of a top US State Department official who confirmed he had been a client of a woman accused of running a high-class prostitution ring.
The Queen’s last visit to the White House was in 1991 in the wake of the first Gulf War when George Bush Snr was in power. Whether the Queen will mention Iraq in her speech remains to be seen.
The White House lawn was the site of “Podiumgate” 16 years ago. As the Queen gave an address all that could be seen of her above the podium and microphones was her hat. Someone forgot to put the small raised platform in place ready for the royal VIP.
The next day the Queen quipped as she made another speech: “I do hope you can see me today.”
Mickey Rooney kisses the Queen’s hand This time, she will stand on a custom-made step. The Queen praised Mr Bush Snr in 1991 for his “outstanding leadership” in the Gulf conflict and gave reassurances about post-war problems, saying: “great enterprises seldom end with a tidy and satisfactory flourish”.
She also presented him with the Churchill award. It is not known if the current President Bush will get an award this time. A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman refused to comment.