US President and First Lady Bush arrived in London last evening. President Bush, after a formal greeting by HM Queen Elizabeth II earlier today at Buckingham Palace, gave his first and probably the major speech of his visit early this afternoon at the Banqueting House in London. I watched it live on television and as this BBC report shows, his speech was a powerful and friendly one, showing that the President is well capaple of making his points forcefully in a balanced manner, but larded with humour. He is not, perhaps (and this is a personal assessment), the world's greatest orator, but it is quite clear that he is considerably brighter and quick-witted than some of his public appearances prior to the election or in the early stages of his Presidency might have implied; the interview with David Frost broadcast last Sunday, in advance of the visit, showed this very clearly as well. A few of the more interesting remarks he made include:
"America is fortunate to call this country our closest friend in the world"
'the danger of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction aided by dictators represented "the greatest threat of our age" '
"The evil is in plain sight. The danger only increases with denial. Great responsibilities have fallen once again to the great democracies. We will face these threats with open eyes and we will defeat them."
"The men and women of this kingdom are kind and steadfast and generous and brave. And America is fortunate to call this country our closest friend in the world."
During the visit the BBC is posting a Reporters' log, which as with the one they ran during the recent conflict in Iraq, will probably provide amongst the most up to date reporting available.
It's a pity the visit is so constrained by the need to maintain tight levels of security, but the safety of President Bush and those accompanying him, not to mention that of our own Monarch and senior government officials, is paramount. The official website of the British Monarchy gives a great deal of background to relations between the UK and the US and covers the main points of the visit.