All majesty, all around
By TIMES WIRES
Published May 8, 2007
With a slip of the tongue, President Bush brought roars of laughter to the White House welcoming ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II.
He stumbled in his speech Monday, saying that the queen had dined with 10 U.S. presidents and had helped the United States "celebrate its bicentennial in 17 -." Bush caught himself and corrected the date to 1976. He paused as if to see if the 81-year-old queen had taken offense.
"She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child, " the president said with a smile.
Bush and his wife, Laura, greeted Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her husband, Prince Philip, before the welcoming ceremony attended by thousands of guests.
The visit to Washington comes at the tail end of a six-day trip, the queen's fifth to the United States but her first since 1991, when Bush's father was president. The royal couple was staying at Blair House, the president's guest house, before returning to London tonight.
Monday was to be a day of high pomp and pageantry from a president known for informality. In the queen's honor, Bush agreed to host Monday night's state dinner as white tie, the first of his presidency.
The dinner took place in the State Dining Room on the State Floor of the White House, after a reception in the East Room on the State Floor. The 134 guests included a diverse representation from across the country. Among the U.S. delegation were Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Becky Gates; and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Lynne Pace. A member of the Bush administration served as the table host at each of the 13 tables. Members of the British delegation were seated throughout the dining room. Following tradition, couples were seated at different tables. Other guests included former first lady Nancy Reagan, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Columba Bush, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, golfer Arnold Palmer, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel and violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, the featured entertainer.
Preparation and menu
The first lady planned the dinner menu with her social secretary Amy Zantzinger and executive chef Cristeta "Cris" Comerford. She also coordinated with Bill Yosses, the White House executive pastry chef responsible for creating the dessert. The five-course menu reflected both nations. It included spring pea soup with fernleaf lavender; Dover sole almondine; saddle of spring lamb; arugula, Savannah mustard and mint romaine; and a dessert of sugar roses, above.
In honor of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the attire for men was white tie, a first for the Bush White House. Mrs. Bush wore an aqua creation by Oscar de la Renta with silver beading and rhinestones and a bolero jacket, while the queen had a cream gown with a sparkling bodice, a blue sash, gloves and a diamond tiara.
White tie, black tie
The most formal dress code that exists for men is white tie and tails. Dinner clothes, tuxedos and other forms of black tie are semiformal. Women must wear a formal evening gown when the dress is described as white tie. Occasions that require white tie are increasingly rare, but in the United Kingdom these still include state dinners.
Besides Perlman, the "President's Own" United States Marine Band, the Strolling Strings and the U.S. Army Chorus performed.
Information from the Associated Press, McClatchy Newspapers, Getty Images, whitehouse.gov, ABCNews.com and apparelsearch.com was used in this report.
The room setting
The table settings included:
- Cream damask tablecloths covering the 13 tables.
- Clinton china, which is ivory with a gold rim and features a vignette of the White House; vermeil flatware; the President's House crystal pattern; and alternating candelabras and containers from the vermeil collection. Pieces from the vermeil (a French term for gilded silver) collection are 18th and 19th century English.
- More than 300 white roses in decorative centerpieces.