Stars of sport and screen invited as Obama hosts queen
LONDON—Royalty, Hollywood A-listers and football icon David Beckham gathered in central London on Wednesday as US President Barack Obama hosted Queen Elizabeth II for a regal dinner.
The three-course meal at the US ambassador’s house in Regent’s Park reciprocated the state banquet thrown by the queen on Tuesday and was attended by an equally diverse range of guests.
US actor Tom Hanks was invited to both functions, while British counterpart Colin Firth, who won an Oscar for his role as the queen’s stammering father in “The King’s Speech”, attended Wednesday’s dinner at Winfield House.
LA Galaxy and former Manchester United footballer Beckham, who was also invited to the recent royal wedding, was in attendance along with Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had earlier held talks with Obama, was accompanied by his wife Samantha and her mother Annabel Astor.
US First Lady Michelle Obama wore a Ralph Lauren floor-length, off-the-shoulder evening gown with a satin bodice and a crepe skirt while the queen chose an Angela Kelly white evening dress with gold and silver sequins.
The menu mixed US and British influences with guests feasting on griddled fillet of Highlands beef and crushed jersey royal potatoes and a classic pecan pie and brandy ice cream for dessert.
Distinguished US guests included four-star Navy admiral James Stavridis and Pulitzer-prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin while the European Union was represented by its foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
US actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, familiar to fans of hit-show Glee, entertained the guests after dinner.
Following the banquet, the two heads of state officially bade farewell, before returning separately to Buckingham Palace where the president and his wife have been staying.
The Winfield House venue was named after Woolworth-group founder Frank Winfield Woolworth, and boasts the second largest private garden in central London after the queen’s Buckingham Palace residence.
The 1937 neo-Georgian building has served as the official ambassadorial residence of the US since 1955.
The event marked the last engagement of Obama’s two-day state visit which has mixed pomp and pageantry courtesy of his royal hosts and hard-nosed political wrangling.
After one final night in the palace, the Obamas will fly to Deauville in France where the president will attend the G8 summit.