Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Queen and President: Duelling Speeches

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOn her last night in Washington, Elizabeth II hosted a return banquet at the British Embasssy for the President and First Lady.

To make a toast, Her Majesty rose first:

Mr. President, I wondered whether I should start this toast saying, "When I was here in 1776" -- (laughter and applause.)

Mr. President, it is a real pleasure to welcome you and Mrs. Bush here this evening. Over our six days in the United States, we have much enjoyed the chance to dwell on the history of the relationship between our two countries, as well as celebrating its present strength and vitality. I would like to thank everyone for the warmth and kindness extended to us.

I would also like to take this opportunity, on the day that has seen the formal transfer of power to the devolved Northern Ireland government, to thank you and your predecessors for your contribution to bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

May I ask everyone to rise and drink a toast to President and Mrs. Bush, to the future of our two countries, and the enduring friendship between Britain and the United States.

Mr. President.

(A toast is offered.)

The President then rose to acknowledge the Queen's kind and witty words.

Your Majesty, I can't top that one. (Laughter.)

Your Royal Highness, distinguished guests, thank you so much for a warm welcome. Laura and I appreciate your hospitality. I particularly want to thank Ambassador Manning and Lady Manning for inviting us to your home.

The friendship between the British and American people is one of the oldest and most enduring in history. This friendship has been built on the common ideal of freedom, and forged by our shared sacrifices in freedom's defense.

Your Majesty, I appreciate your visit to our World War II Memorial. I thank you for sharing your perspective last night on how the Atlantic Alliance that emerged from a great conflict has helped lay the foundation for freedom's triumph in Europe and beyond.

Today, British and American troops are following the example set by a previous generation. Troops from our two countries are serving side by side to bring the hope of liberty to regions that have not known it. Together we're supporting young democracies that are taking their first steps on the path to free and peaceful societies.

This morning the world witnessed yet another advance for freedom and peace -- the people of Northern Ireland took control of their future when Catholics and Protestants came together to form a new government that offers the prospect of peace and reconciliation after years of violence and division. In Belfast today, we're seeing once again how democracy and freedom can help heal a wounded world.

Your Majesty, thank you for your words tonight, and for the love and affection you have shown the American people over many years. In this spirit, I offer a toast to Your Majesty, to Your Royal Highness, and to our closest of friends, the British people.

(A toast is offered.)

The Pop Culture Institute offers you its own toast, Your Majesty:

Long may you reign!
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