Downing Street was “pulling out all stops” to ensure Clinton’s May 1997 visit—between visits to the summit in The Hague and Paris—was a “public relations success”, according to a memo between Dominic Chilcott, assistant private Secretary Foreign Secretary, and John Holmes, Blair’s Principal Private Secretary.
The documents are issued by the National Archives of the UK.
Although the president and his wife Hillary Clinton were offered tea with Queen Elizabeth, they declined it in favor of other activities, reveals a note from Blair’s personal secretary, Philip Barton.
“The Americans said that the President and Mrs. Clinton were very grateful for HM The Queen’s invitation for tea at the palace, but would politely decline,” he said at the May 21 briefing.
The document detail seeks to confirm the ever-changing schedule for the presidential couple’s visit to the UK on 29 May.
At the time of the visit, Blair had begun his 10-year term as Prime Minister of Britain, having been elected earlier that month.
Asked what he would like to do after his speech, the note said Clinton’s team “had no clear idea” – but the president “wanted to be a tourist” and wanted to visit a garden and shops. , and some Indian sample meals with the prime minister, Barton wrote.
“Americans were not attracted by our suggestion of dinner at Checkers,” the note said. Checkers is the UK Prime Minister’s country retreat, located in Buckinghamshire, about 30 miles north-west of London.
In the end, the group dined at Le Pont de la Tour, spending £265 ($360) on a meal consisting of halibut, salmon, sole and rabbit, according to receipts.