Today was one of those rare Washington, D.C. days. This is a city that doesn't usually have a cloudless sky -- it's often either too hot or too cold -- but that was the backdrop as the Queen came to the White House and took part in an arrival ceremony that outdid other arrival ceremonies for heads of state. It's easy to get jaded in the White House press corps by all these events, but not this one. The audience was huge -- 7,000 men, women and children waving American and British flags and soaking up all the pomp and ceremony.
The President and the Queen reviewed representatives from all the U.S. armed forces who stood at attention on the South Lawn and later heard from the Old Guard Fife and Drum corps.
But one of the highlights at this morning's ceremony was not planned -- a malaprop. In his remarks, the president referred to ties between the U.K. and U.S.: "The American people are proud to welcome Your Majesty back to the United States, a nation you've come to know very well. After all, you've dined with ten U.S. presidents. You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 -- in 1976. (Pause for laughter) She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child."
Tonight there's an elaborate state dinner with 134 VIPs who will be seated in the State Dining Room. Included in the U.S. delegation will be the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, Secretary Rice, Secretary and Mrs. Gates, and General and Mrs. Pace. A member of the Bush Administration will serve as the table host at each of the 13 tables. Members of the British delegation will be seated throughout the room. Traditionally, couples are seated at different tables.
This will be a very fancy event. Attire is white tie -- the first time for this White House. President Clinton hosted three such events for leaders of Japan and Spain and on New Year's Eve in 1999 and President Reagan's inaugural balls in 1981 were also white tie.
Mrs. Bush planned the dinner menu with her Social Secretary Amy Zantzinger, Executive Chef Cristeta "Cris" Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses. The menu won't be released until 2:30 p.m. EDT, but we're told it will feature five courses: Appetizer/Soup, Fish, Meat, Salad and Dessert. I'll post the details shortly for all the foodies out there.