Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

By Reuters   April 23, 2016 | 09:55 am GMT+7
U.S. President Barack Obama flew to Queen Elizabeth's castle on Friday to wish happy birthday to the world's oldest monarch a day after she turned 90, calling her one of his favourite people.
Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama depart Winfield House in London to have lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are greeted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh upon their arrival for lunch at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh stand with the President and First Lady of the United States Barack Obama and his wife Michelle (both centre), in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle ahead of a private lunch hosted by the Queen in Windsor, Britain, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/John Stillwell

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

The arrival of the President of the United States and First Lady with HRH the Queen driven by the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the Sovereign's Entrance in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Geoff Pugh

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, wait for U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to arrive for dinner at Kensington Palace in London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Jackson

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama react upon arrival at Kensington Palace before a dinner with Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, in London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Jackson

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

U.S. President Barack Obama holds an umbrella as he and first lady Michelle Obama are greeted by Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, upon arrival for dinner at Kensington Palace in London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Britain's Prince Harry greets U.S. first lady Michelle Obama while President Barack Obama, Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, look on before a dinner at Kensington Palace in London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Radburn

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

U.S. President Barrack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive for dinner at Kensington Palace with Britain's Prince William, his wife Kate and Prince Harry in London, Britain, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visit Kensington Palace for dinner with Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry in London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Crowley

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama before a dinner at Kensington Palace in London, Britain, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Dominic Lipinski

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge speaks with U.S. first lady Michelle Obama before a dinner at Kensington Palace in London, Britain, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Dominic Lipinski

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Handout photo issued by Kensington Palace of Prince George (right) meeting the President of the United States Barack Obama (centre) and First Lady Michelle Obama (behind) at Kensington Palace, London, with Britain's Prince William Friday April 22, 2016. Kensington Palace/Pete Souza/White House Photographer/PA Wire/Handout via Reuters

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Handout photo issued by Kensington Palace of US President Barack Obama (2nd right) and Britain's Prince William (right) while Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge plays with Prince George as he rides a rocking horse Friday April 22, 2016. Kensington Palace/PA Wire/Handout via Reuters

Obama meets with the Royal Family in London visit

Handout photo issued by Kensington Palace of US President Barack Obama (right) talking with Britain's Prince William (2nd right) while Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge plays with Prince George as he rides a rocking horse while the First Lady Michelle Obama talks to Prince Harry (left) Friday April 22, 2016. Kensington Palace/Pete Souza/White House Photographer/PA Wire/Handout via Reuters

The queen and her husband Prince Philip greeted the president and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama as their helicopter touched down on the manicured lawns of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world located about 20 miles (32 km) to the west of the British capital.

After chatting briefly, they climbed into the queen's Range Rover and the 94-year-old Philip drove them to the royal residence, which has been a family home for British monarchs for nearly 1,000 years, as trumpets sounded in the distance.

"I have to say I have never been driven by a Duke of Edinburgh before, but I can report it was very smooth riding," Obama later told reporters.

"The queen's been a source of inspiration for me like so many people around the world. She is truly one of my favourite people."

The Obamas later had dinner with a younger generation of royals, the queen's grandson Prince William, his wife Kate and his brother Prince Harry, at Kensington Palace in London.

Elizabeth, the oldest monarch in British history who has met 11 U.S. presidents, marked the milestone of reaching 90 with a walkabout on Thursday in Windsor where she met thousands of well-wishers.

Obama said he had offered his own personal congratulations and presented the queen with a photo album chronicling her visits to the United States and previous presidential meetings, beginning in 1951 when she met President Harry Truman.

"Should we be fortunate enough to reach 90, may we be as vibrant as she is," Obama said. "She is an astonishing person and a real jewel to the world and not just the United Kingdom."

Thursday's lunch was Obama's third opportunity to meet the queen after a state visit with his wife in 2011, when they stayed at Buckingham Palace, and a private audience in 2009.

The trip to Windsor almost proved too much for one tough White House staffer who was so overwhelmed at meeting the queen she almost fainted, Obama recounted.

Later, the Obamas arrived at Kensington Palace in rainy weather and were greeted by William, Kate and Harry who ducked under an umbrella to kiss Michelle Obama on each cheek. Dressed relatively casually, with no ties for the men, the party posed for a photo before heading inside.

Reporters caught a glimpse of William and Kate's eldest child, Prince George, whose birth in 2013 sparked a global media frenzy. The young prince was allowed to stay up later than usual to meet the Obamas, and spent about 15 minutes with them.

In a photograph released to the media of the group chatting in a drawing room before dinner, a rocking horse could be seen, as well as a fluffy Portuguese Water Dog toy given by the Obamas to Prince George. Bo, the White House dog, is of that breed.

 
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