They were due to arrive in the UK today but their flight was rescheduled for an earlier time, due to worries of disruption from a volcanic ash cloud coming over from Iceland. A spokesman from Ryannair has called the ash cloud worries “rubbish” but the Presidential visit made a quick travel rearrangement anyway. It was also announced this morning that the Obamas would meet William and Kate (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge).
Due to the arrival of the President and First Lady late last night, they were not greeted by the Queen and Prince Philip. They went to stay at Winfield Park, the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park instead.
But they traveled to Buckingham Palace for the official greeting this morning. The arrival was televised live in the UK and there was a cute moment during the photo call. Michelle Obama had been talking to the Queen when the flash bulbs began and Michelle ushered her husband to swap places with her so he was the one standing beside the Queen in the photos.
The greeting seemed warm and friendly, but nothing like their last meeting when Michelle Obama spontaneously put her arm around the Queen’s waist and the Queen reciprocated. The usual rule of royal protocol is that under no circumstances do you touch the Queen, except to shake hands with her, after she initiates it. This visit, royal protocol was observed and there were only handshakes but the meeting seemed friendly and relaxed.
It was also announced only a little time ahead that the US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle would also meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as their state visit to the UK begins.
The American leader and his spouse were not invited to the recent royal wedding but will have the chance to congratulate William and Kate in person at Buckingham Palace. President Obama had mentioned the fascination the US had with the royal wedding at Westminster Abbey, when he met the Prince of Wales, at the White House a few weeks ago.
At the start of his three-day trip to President Obama hailed the US-UK partnership “an essential relationship for us and for the world.”
This state visit is only the third by a US president to the UK in 100 years. It comes at a time of close co-operation between Britain and America on issues ranging from Libya to Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and the Middle East peace process. The strong partnership was reflected in a joint article written by Mr Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron for The Times, in which they declare: “Ours is not just a special relationship, it is an essential relationship – for us and for the world.”