May 24 - Queen Elizabeth calls the U.S. Britain's ''most important ally'' as she renews bonds with President Obama who offers thanks for the alliance. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip host a white tie state banquet at Buckingham Palace for U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The dinner was set for 170 guests sitting at a horse-shoe shaped table. Guests included British Prime Minister David Cameron. Also attending U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Prince Charles. The visit comes as both the US and the UK aim to reaffirm their special relationship. The Queen welcomed the President. SOUNDBITE: Queen Elizabeth, saying (English): "Today the United States remains our most important ally and our two nations contribute to the security and prosperity of our peoples and of the world through shared national interests And she spoke of the ties that bind. SOUNDBITE: Queen Elizabeth, saying (English): "Ladies and gentlemen we are here to celebrate the tried and tested and, yes, special relationship between our two countries I therefore ask you now to join me in raising your glasses to continued health, happiness and prosperity to the people of the United States of America and especially to the health of President and Mrs. Obama Obama started his speech by telling the Queen he brought "warm greetings" from tens of millions of Americans who claim British ancestry, as well as his daughters. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama, saying (English): "Your majesty. Thank you for your generous remarks, for the invitation you extended for our first visit to Europe and for the warm friendship you have shown to both Michelle and myself on both of our visits to Buckingham palace. I bring warm greetings from tens of millions who claim British ancestry including me from my mother's family. I bring warm greetings from Malia and Sasha who adored you even before you let them ride on a carriage on the palace grounds." On a more serious note he paid tribute to Britain's military forces and those who lost their lives in attacks on the realm. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama, saying (English): "Allow me to pay tribute to the contributions of your military forces which have stood shoulder to shoulder with us for decades. And as we confront the challenges of the 21st century together we can have confidence in the partnership that our 2 countries share based on the rock solid foundation built during Queen Elizabeth's lifetime of extraordinary service to her nation and to the world . Ladies and gentlemen please stand with me and raise your glasses as I propose a toast." At the end of the President's toast there was a slip up when he continued speaking over the national anthem. The orchestra assumed he had finished when he picked up his glass and toasted the Queen. But there appeared to be no disruption to his close relationship with the royals. The Queen was heard to remark after Obama finished his address: "That's very kind". Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters