Obama toasts 'blessed' England at state dinner

25th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

US President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II Tuesday processed together into a glittering Buckingham Palace state dinner, and paid history-daubed tribute to the old alliance between their two nations.

Obama, on the second day of a tour of Europe, quoted Shakespeare and wartime prime minister Winston Churchill to pay tribute to Britain and to sum up a relationship he portrayed as a cornerstone of Western civilisation.

The president said he was in Britain to "reaffirm the enduring bonds between our nations and reinforce the special relationship."

In a personal tribute delivered directly to the 85-year-old British monarch, he said his two daughters Malia and Sasha "adored you, even before you let them ride in a carriage in the palace grounds."

The queen and Obama had paraded into the white tie dinner as a chamber orchestra played "God Save the Queen" while First Lady Michelle Obama walked in beside the queen's consort, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Other guests included British Prime Minister David Cameron, some of his predecessors including John Major and Gordon Brown, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, entrepreneur Richard Branson, and Hollywood stars Kevin Spacey and Tom Hanks.

Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew also attended, as did senior members of Obama's White House entourage.

In her toast, the queen said Obama's visit reminds us of "our shared history, our common language and our strong intellectual and cultural links."

"Your country twice came to the rescue of the free and democratic world when it was facing military disaster," she told Obama, in a reference to the two world wars.

Obama concluded his toast with a quote from Shakespeare's Richard III.

"To her Majesty the Queen, to the vitality of the special relationship between our peoples and in the words of Shakespeare, 'to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.'"

© 2011 AFP

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