Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Barack's in town
Today marks the beginning of President Obama's state visit to the UK - only the third such visit made by an American President in the last century, although the Queen has notched up an impressive 101 state visitors during her reign.
Obama has already had a very successful tour of Ireland, where he has drunk Guiness in his ancestors' home of Moneygall (and got his car stuck on a ramp). Americana this Sunday had a very interesting report on why Presidents (and Americans in general) are so keen to celebrate their Irish ancestry, and it is well worth listening to. You can also click on this map to see how other Presidents, including Reagan, Bush and, of course, Kennedy have acknowledged their Irish roots.
There will be much talk during the UK visit about the "Special Relationship" between the US and the UK. Obama and Cameron have published an article in the Times this morning explaining that the relationship remains "essential". Not everyone would agree, and this article suggests that Obama has deliberately moved away from emphasizing the UK as a key ally in order to promote alliances elsewhere.
Here is some more information about what exactly state visits are for, and here is some footage of some previous presidential visits.
PS: Here is a super-detailed Daily Mail graphic of the Presidential Car - known as the Beast! Click on it to enlarge the picture and ">click here for further info and videos.
PPS: Here are further articles on the "Special Relationship" from the New York Times and Washington Post.