1 APRIL 2009

Excitement swept the nation on Tuesday as President Barack Obama arrived in Britain on his first official visit to Europe. Shortly after Air Force One touched down at 8pm the 47-year-old statesman and his wife Michelle Obama emerged hand-in-hand to wave from the steps of the aircraft.

Crowds of well-wishers waving US flags had gathered at Stansted to welcome the American leader and his wife, who opted for a striking canary-yellow dress for the occasion. After disembarking the first couple – who are in the country so Mr Obama can attend the economic G20 summit - were whisked away by helicopter to the Regents Park residence of the US ambassador.

The couple – who have an entourage of 500 security and support staff - will be staying with the ambassador during their five-day visit. They're travelling with a team of chefs, plus the President's personal aide Reggie Love, who exercises with him and keeps a permanent supply of the US leader's favourite food and drinks to hand.

First on the agenda on Wednesday morning for the couple was a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah at Downing Street. Later in the day they are to be presented to the the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The getting-to-know you session in the monarch's private questers, which is scheduled to last for 25 minutes, is something of a break from protocol. Normally only heads of state on official visits are granted an audience with the Queen. Mr Obama is one of a number of leaders in the UK for the G20 summit.

Most senior royals will be present for the meeting, including Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who is still recovering from acute bronchitis. Mr Obama will finish the day back at Downing Street attending a dinner hosted by Gordon Brown and prepared by Jamie Oliver for world leaders attending the summit.

At a separate dinner but enjoying the same menu – which consists of seasonal produce including Welsh lamb, Jersey Royal new potatoes and asparagus - will be Michelle, Sarah and the other spouses. They'll be joined by leading women from the worlds of celebrity, arts and sports, including Harry Potter author JK Rowling, model Naomi Campbell and Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes.

Photo: PA
Hand-in-hand and waving at crowds of well-wishers, the US leader and his wife Michelle emerged from Air Force One at Stansted shortly after 8pm
Photo: PA
First up for the couple on Wednesday morning was a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah
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