From Downton to the White House: Hugh may be coming to dinner

Diary: The US visit

Glittering the White House dinner will be, but what stars will be there?

Well, leaders of both political parties on Capitol Hill, of course, ambassadors from nations deemed worthy – the Syrian embassy presumably is still checking the post for the invitation that went missing. And stars.

To reflect the astounding success in the US of the TV series Downton Abbey, Hugh Bonneville is said to be on the guest list. Sir Jonathan Ive – Apple's British design supremo – is said to be attending, too, along with Damian Lewis, the British actor who shone as a US special ops soldier sprung from prison in Iraq in the Showtime hit, Homeland. Impressive? Attendees at a White House dinner for Tony Blair in 1998 included Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks and Barbra Streisand.

What's in an invitation?

Pedantry moment. Though tonight's gala affair at the White House in honour of the Camerons has been widely termed a "State Dinner", the purists say that's not quite right. Those are reserved for visiting heads of state, and, well, that would be the Queen. It sounds less grand but is this merely an "Official Dinner"?

Not according to the State Department, which says it qualifies for the "State" moniker because the President will be the host. And, well, he can call it what the heck he likes.

Boys' rules apply courtside

They may be preparing to dress for dinner tonight, but last night it was all dressed down for Dayton and the basketball arena. As he climbed out of an SUV with Barack Obama at the Elipse, just south of the White House, to board Marine One, the presidential helicopter and their ride to Andrew Air Force Base and the awaiting Air Force One jumbo, Mr Cameron sported a black shirt with long sleeves and blue jeans while Mr Obama was in his usual weekend garb of a blue and white checkered shirt and easy trousers. A boys' night out? So it seems. Michelle Obama or Samantha Cameron were ditched to fend for themselves in Washington.


Games on menu for the ladies

Rather than leave her in the formal guest accommodations at Blair House just north of the White House, Mrs Obama had Mrs Cameron over for a little dinner à deux. The conversation was thought to have turned quickly to London and the Olympic Games, when it will be the First Lady who leads the US sporting delegation, not the President.

Perhaps a more refined affair than the boys – the vitals at the Dayton game for the two leaders of the free world consisted primarily of frankfurters.

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