Former United States President Bill Clinton refused tea with Queen Elizabeth and dinner at Checkers because he wanted to “be a tourist” and try an Indian restaurant during his first official visit to the UK with Tony Blair as prime minister , reveal classified documents.
Downing Street wanted to lift all bans on a first visit as essential to “establishing a good working relationship” between the new prime minister and the then US president. Buckingham Palace contacted her to tell her that the Queen would be very pleased to invite the Clintons for tea at 5pm on their brief one-day diversion from the summits in Paris and The Hague.
According to The Guardian, though very grateful for the Queen’s invitation, the Clintons declined ‘politely’ as they wanted to go shopping and had expressed interest in trying Indian food.
The Foreign Office’s suggestions, which all went nowhere, included a lunchtime blockchain session “for the president and prime minister to play together briefly (with or without other musicians who might be at lunch).
Suggestions for a “walk in Trafalgar Square” before visiting the Haymarket Sports Café, where the two men could be told how to play various sophisticated computer games by a group of children were firmly rejected by the White House as not quite serious.
The Clintons ended up with free time between a joint press conference and dinner. Instead of an Indian restaurant, dinner for the Blairs and Clintons was at the French restaurant Le Pont de la Tour near Tower Bridge, where the 8 298.86 bill shows the two couples consuming grilled fish, halibut, wild salmon and rabbit .
Prior to the visit, there were concerns in the White House that the Clintons had recently stayed in Barbados at a home owned by Sir Anthony Bamford, a well-known Conservative supporter. There were fears that this could be misunderstood or misinterpreted in London, the documents reveal. The White House said the president did not know Bamford at all, but the property he owned was in a particularly good position and set by a high security.
During his May 29, 1997, visit, Clinton had to appear around the cabinet room, prompting then-Secretary of the Cabinet Robin Butler to recall Blair’s chief private secretary, John Holmes, for the unfavorable visit of former US President Richard Nixon. in the cabinet room in 1969.