Bill Clinton turned down tea with Queen Elizabeth during his first official visit to the UK with Tony Blair as prime minister newly declassified documents detail. Clinton snubbed the Queen and turned down the chance to meet at Chequers, the country house of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, because he wanted to “be a tourist” and eat at an Indian restaurant.
Buckingham Palace told Tony Blair’s office that “HM the Queen would be very pleased” to invite the Clintons to tea.
Downing Street private secretary Philip Barton shut that down saying: “The Americans said that the president and Mrs. Clinton were very grateful for HM The Queen’s invitation to tea at the palace, but would wish to decline politely” before adding that the White House also was not interested in a “suggestion of a dinner at Chequers.”
From The Guardian:
A lot was riding on the visit, with the British and Americans agreeing it needed to “show the president and the prime minister to the wider world as young, dynamic and serious leaders”.
The Americans were keen for a “fun” and “photogenic” outside event. Foreign Office suggestions – which all went nowhere – included a lunchtime jamming session “for the president (saxophone) and the prime minister (guitar) to play together briefly (with or without other musicians who might be at the lunch)”. Another was a “look in a pub (the Americans like them)”.
No 10’s suggestions for a “stroll in Trafalgar Square” before visiting the Sports Cafe in Haymarket, where both men “could be shown how to play various sophisticated computer games by a group of children” were “firmly” rejected by the White House as “not serious enough”.
In the event, the Clintons ended up with free time between a joint press conference and dinner. Rather than an Indian restaurant, dinner for the Blairs and Clintons was at the French restaurant Le Pont de la Tour near Tower Bridge, where the £298.86 invoice shows the two couples dined on grilled sole, halibut, wild salmon and rabbit.
From The New York Post:
Foreign Office suggestions, which were ignored, included a jamming session “for the president (saxophone) and the prime minister (guitar) to play together briefly (with or without other musicians who might be at the lunch),” according to the report.
Another idea that went nowhere was a “look in a pub (the Americans like them).”
The White House also rejected the prime minister’s suggestion for a “stroll in Trafalgar Square” before visiting a sports cafe where Clinton and Blair “could be shown how to play various sophisticated computer games by a group of children,” the Guardian reported.