- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

LONDON (AP) - President Barack Obama says he spent several wonderful hours at Buckingham Palace.

“Her majesty is delightful,” Obama shouted to reporters as he and first lady Michelle Obama left the palace Wednesday night. It was the American couple’s first meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip.

The queen and the prince entertained the Obamas in her private audience room, overlooking the palace gardens where thousands of daffodils and other flowers were in full bloom.

Afterward, both couples attended a palace reception for leaders of the 20 wealthy and developing economies who had traveled to London for an economic summit on Thursday.

“It was a wonderful visit,” Obama said.

Hours earlier, he had said he was very much looking forward to his first meeting with the queen.

“And as you might imagine, Michelle has been really thinking that through because I think in the imagination of people throughout America, I think what the queen stands for and her decency and her civility, what she represents, that’s very important,” Obama said during a news conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The queen and the first lady seemed to hit it off. Photographs showed them arm in arm at the reception.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president called home to tell his two young daughters he met the queen.

“I think it was a real treat to call back and tell his kids that he’d met the queen,” Gibbs told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” referring to the president and his two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

The spokesman said the girls had been talking about their dad’s visit with the queen in the days leading up to the trip. “This is something that genuinely interested them,” he said.

The meeting, however, reminded him of another family member, Gibbs told NBC’s “Today” show.

“The president remarked to me this morning that her sensibility sort of reminded him a bit of his grandmother, only with a much bigger house.”


Dinner for the world leaders at Brown’s official residence, 10 Downing St., followed the reception.

The leaders’ spouses held forth at a separate function; Brown’s wife, Sarah, was the host.

Obama was seated between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Across from Obama was his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez.

Mrs. Obama often says she gets to have more fun than her husband, and the seating arrangement for the spouse’s meal seemed to bear that out. She sat next to J.K. Rowling, the popular author of the Harry Potter novels.

Other spouses also attended the dinner with British celebrities, including Olympic gold medalist Kelly Holmes and model Naomi Campbell.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had hinted that he would walk out of the G-20 summit if leaders failed to agree on tighter regulations for the financial industry, was the last to arrive for the working dinner.

He also was among the first to leave after the meal, which celebrity chef Jamie Oliver had prepared.

Sarkozy declined to comment to waiting reporters. He had presented a more conciliatory stance earlier Wednesday during a joint appearance with Merkel in London, saying he had “confidence in Obama.”

Meanwhile, Obama, making his European debut as president, was among the last world leaders to depart.

“It was a wonderful dinner,” he said as he departed with his wife.


Associated Press writer Gregory Katz contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide