[ 2007-05-08 09:33 ]
|President Bush toasts with Queen Elizabeth II, left, during a State Dinner at the White House on Monday, May 7, 2007 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
It was queen's weather for Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at the White House, where President Bush welcomed her under brilliant skies with a colorful pageant of ruffles and flourishes — and even a little joke.
The band played the national anthems, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps in revolutionary-era uniforms piped British Grenadiers, the 21 guns saluted, the troops marched, and 7,000 onlookers on the South Lawn cheered, clapped and waved littleUnion Jacksand American flags for the arrival ceremony, a White House tradition for heads of state but especially fervent this time in honor of the sovereign of America's closest ally in the Iraq war.
In his welcoming remarks, Bush underlined that point.
"Today our two nations are defending liberty against tyranny and terror," he said. "American and British forces are staying on the offense against the extremists and terrorists. … Your Majesty, I appreciate your leadership during these times of danger and decision."
A white-tie state dinner — Bush's first — for 134 is Monday night, with entertainment by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. For thestate dinner, Mrs. Bush will be wearing an embroidered aqua gown with a bolero by Oscar de la Renta. The queen's attire has not been released but it likely won't be by a famous fashion designer (the queen has her own dressmakers). Of more interest, especially to scruffy reporters, is what jewels she will wear.
Bush is known to disdainfancy dressand staying up late but relented for the queen. "We did sort of have to convince him a little bit" to opt for white-tie, Laura Bush said Monday of her efforts along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to talk Bush into agreeing to the most formal dress code, especially favored by the British.
On Tuesday, the Bushes will go to the British Embassy to dine with the queen and the duke at another formal dinner.
The royal couple arrived in Washington on Sunday night, after visiting Jamestown, Va., to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in North America, and Louisville for the Kentucky Derby over the weekend.