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Barack Obama expresses affection for Queen before Palace meeting

April 1, 2009
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It was the highlight of a momentous day for Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama as the pair were welcomed to Buckingham Palace by the Queen and Prince Philip. The US leader admitted to feeling "as excited as a school boy" as the First Couple were invited into the British monarch's private quarters for tea.

Before he went to the Palace, Mr Obama, who was the 11th US President to shake the British Sovereign's hand, spoke warmly about his host. "There's one thing I should mention I love about Great Britain," he said. "And that's the Queen. I am looking forward to meeting her for the first time."

He continued: "I think in the imagination of the people throughout America, what the Queen stands for, her decency and her civility and what she represents is important."

As a present the 47-year-old statesman gave the Queen a personalised iPod packed with photos and a video of her 2007 state visit to America. And in return the 82-year-old royal and her husband gave their visitors a signed photograph of themselves in a silver frame.

After the informal 'getting to know you' meeting, which lasted for 25 minutes, the foursome moved on to a champagne reception with a string of world leaders and dignitaries in the Palace's picture gallery.

Mrs Obama and the Queen appeared to get on especially well during the soiree, with the President's wife breaking with royal protocol to put her arm around the queen as they seemingly discussed their shoes. Normally rules state it is forbidden to touch the Queen, but she didn't seem to mind, and reciprocated the gesture for a few moments.

Others present at the reception included British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who bent to kiss the hand of the Duchess of Cornwall when he was introduced to her. Other royals on hand included Prince Charles and his niece Princess Beatrice.

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Photo: Getty Images
The First Couple were welcomed into the Queen and Prince Philips's private quarters for tea. "There's one thing I should mention I love about Great Britain," said Mr Obama before arriving at Buckingham Palace. "And that's the Queen. I am looking forward to meeting her for the first time"
Photo: Getty Images
Afterwards the US leader and his wife Michelle attended a champagne reception in the Palace's picture gallery, where they were introduced to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
Photo: Getty Images
French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who was also present, bends to kiss Camilla's hand after being introduced to her by the heir to the throne

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