Barack Obama receives warm welcome to UK

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

US president Barack Obama renewed friendships with the Queen and strengthened ties with Britain today on his first state visit to the UK.

The American leader and his wife Michelle were given a warm welcome by the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh, met newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and headed to Downing Street at the start of their three-day stay.



The state visit comes at a time of close co-operation between Britain and the US on Libya, Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and the Middle East peace process.



At Westminster Abbey, following a wreath-laying at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, the First Lady Mrs Obama was heard to remark: "It's so nice to be back."



Following a courtesy call on the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha, Mr Obama and Mr Cameron dropped in on a south London school. The two leaders took off their jackets and teamed up to play table tennis against two teenage schoolboys.



But the Anglo-American team took a sound beating at the hands of 16 year olds Jason Do and Jamiyu Mojaji at the Globe Academy in Southwark.



"Who wants to take me on?" Mr Obama said as he walked into the gym, before adding: "You can't have the old guys against the young."



Earlier, during a windy welcome ceremony on the terrace of Buckingham Palace, Mrs Obama was left desperately protecting her modesty. Strong gusts had the First Lady clutching her dress as it threatened to blow up into the air during the event in the palace gardens.



The wind also caused havoc with Mrs Obama's hair which was standing on end at one point, while the Queen and Duchess of Cornwall had to hang on to their hats.



On the garden lawn were the Guard of Honour, 101 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, and three officers lined up in two rows. Behind them were the band, pipes and drums of the Scots Guard. The guardsmen gave a royal salute and then the US national anthem was played in honour of the president.



At the grand entrance the US leader exchanged words with the Queen as he gave her a double handshake and greeted Philip, telling him: "Nice to see you sir."



The Queen and the Duke took the Obamas on a tour of the picture gallery, where an exhibition of US memorabilia was put on display by the Royal Collection.



When President Obama was shown letters and artefacts charting Britain's loss of the American colonies, he joked: "That was only a temporary blip in the relationship."



A motorcade of 19 cars and coaches, including a London ambulance, escorted the president in his armoured cadillac, known as The Beast, around the capital.



William and Kate had travelled to the palace especially to see them. Kate was pictured deep in conversation with Mrs Obama, on what was her first royal duty as a member of the royal family, while William talked with the president.



They spent around 20 minutes with the couple in the Palace's grand 1844 room.



The Obamas did not attend the recent royal wedding, with this state visit seen as a sweetener instead. They are staying as guests of the Queen and will occupy the palace's Belgian suite, as is customary for visiting foreign heads of state. It was there that William and Kate spent their first night as a married couple following their wedding.



Tonight Mr and Mrs Obama will be wined and dined at a state banquet for 170 guests in the palace ballroom.



A joint article written for The Times newspaper by Mr Obama and Mr Cameron said today: "Ours is not just a special relationship, it is an essential relationship - for us and for the world."



Tomorrow will be devoted to politics, with talks between the leaders at Downing Street, followed by an address to both Houses of Parliament, in which the president is expected to say that the US has no closer ally in the world than Britain.



The two leaders are also expected to drop in on a barbecue being hosted by their wives for families of military personnel involved in joint UK-US missions overseas.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea