In The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House Barack Obama’s former national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, reveals that the then-President and First Lady of the United States were in awe when they met The Queen on an official visit to the UK in May 2011.
Rhodes writes that though President Obama felt “wonderstruck” by The Queen he also saw in her similarities to his beloved grandmother, Toot. The President is reported to have said, “I really love The Queen. She’s just like Toot, my grandmother. Courteous. Straightforward. All about what she thinks. She doesn’t suffer fools.”
The Obamas visit to Buckingham Palace did have some drama, however, in the form of a rogue rodent. According to Rhodes Obama was in one of the rooms of the first couple’s suite going over his speech for the next day when a butler appeared and said, “ Mr President, pardon me, there’s a mouse.” Obama is said to have taken it in his stride calmly telling the butler not to alert the First Lady to the mouse’s presence. The butler assured him they would try and catch it, but Obama only repeated his request that the First Lady not hear anything about it.
Rhodes reveals that in speaking to Obama about the monarchy during the visit, he jokingly suggested that it “really is a dying empire” to which Obama laughed and disagreed. “No, they’ve still got a lot going on,” he said. “Did you see the bling on The Queen?” He also commented on the ornateness of the surroundings at Buckingham Palace, marvelling that “I’m just a few years away from being in the State Senate and living in a condo.”
During the official visit to the UK President Obama delivered a speech to the UK Parliament in Westminster Hall in which he spoke about the history shared between the United States and the United Kingdom. He said, “In a world which will only grow smaller and more interconnected, the example of our two nations says it is possible for people to be united by their ideals, instead of divided by their differences
“It is possible for hearts to change, and old hatreds to pass; that it’s possible for the sons and daughters of former colonies to sit here as members of this great Parliament, and for the grandson of a Kenyan who served as a cook in the British Army to stand before you as President of the United States.”