ONE YOUNG Englishman was exhilarated by the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as he had been ten years earlier when the Golden Jubilee had celebrated her first half-century on the throne. Then twelve years old, he had written to his mother: “P.S. Remember the Jubilee,” followed by a series of letters begging to be taken to see the great event. They were signed, “Your loving son Winny.” That Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, in the summer of 1887, had seen European royalty gather in Westminster Abbey, while across the land, bonfires were lit. In A.E.
Last week marked the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the British throne. The government has already declared a four day public holiday in June, during which Her Majesty will lead a flotilla of a thousand boats along the Thames and a chain of fiery beacons will be lit across the United Kingdom. For a country in recession and at conflict with the European Union over its right to govern its own finances, this offers us a unique opportunity to reassert confidence and historical identity.
As the First Couple continues their first visit across the pond, they took a break this afternoon from diplomatic talks to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II. According to the BBC, and as Jon pointed out below, Obama gave the Queen an iPod with footage of her 2007 visit to the U.S. and the Queen gave Obama what she gives all visiting dignitaries, a silver framed photograph of herself and her husband. This meeting places Obama in a long line of former presidents who have met with the royal Brit. From Truman to Obama, the Queen has now met 11 of the last 12 U.S. presidents (all but LBJ).
The state dinner hosted at the White House yesterday in honor of French president Nicolas Sarkozy was hardly a soiree of corn dogs and High Life, but was a relaxed affair compared to the starched, white-tie reception Queen Elizabeth II received during her May visit. Still, a comparative study of the guestlists for these rare occasions reveals quite a bit about neither Britain nor France, but the US political pecking order.