President and Mrs. Obama, along with many other heads of state, are not invited to the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, according to the British press.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that, as far as leaders of nations go, the British royals have decided only to invite fellow royalty and the leaders of the former British colonies that comprise the Commonwealth.
So in addition to the Obamas, other international leaders who could add lots of bling to the affair, like French President Nicolas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni, are not on the list.
Most of the 1,900 people invited to the wedding are drawn from the Royal family’s circle of friends and acquaintances, according to the Telegraph.
The approach is a change from the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, when President and Mrs. Reagan were invited. Mrs. Reagan attended.
The Obamas have been invited to Great Britain for a state visit May 24-26.
The trip will give President Obama a chance to try to demonstrate he is resurrecting the “special” Anglo-American relationship, which has deteriorated under his leadership.
His failure to be invited to the wedding, even though he is in the company of other heads of state, will at the very least not diminish the perception of estrangement. The invitation to drop by the next month may in part be designed to erase any notion that lack of a wedding invite is an affront to the Obamas or emblematic of the state of two nations’ current ties.
Obama has failed to develop a close relationship with either of the British prime ministers who have held office during his term. Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton worked intimately with Tony Blair, and Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had famously high regard for each other, as did George H.W. Bush and John Major.
Obama has also committed a series of faux pas, starting with the move to send to the British Embassy in Washington a bust of Winston Churchill that had stood in the Oval Office during George W. Bush’s presidency. The British had offered to let Obama hold onto it.
Churchill is not just the hero of Britain, but he also had a close relationship with Queen Elizabeth during the early years of her reign.
Obama’s presentation of an iPod to the queen was the subject of much derision, as was his gift to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown of a box set of American movies on DVD that did not work in British DVD players.
During a 2009 visit to Britain, Mrs. Obama, in a gesture of bonhomie, put her hand on the queen’s back, a major breach of royal protocol.
Michelle will surely be keeping her distance in May, while the president likely will avoid gifts that involve electronics.