In a first for the 6 ½-year presidency of George W. Bush, the White House staged a white-tie dinner to fete Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on Monday night. First Lady Laura Bush confided to reporters that she had worked with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to persuade Bush to stage this most-formal event. "Dr. Rice and I took it upon ourselves to talk him into it," Mrs. Bush told reporters, "because we thought if we were ever going to have a white-tie event, this would be the one."
At white-tie affairs, men wear black tailcoats, white wing-collar shirts, studs, white pique waistcoats and white ties; women wear ball gowns and often gloves. The last time a white-tie affair was held at the White House was February 2000 when Bill Clinton was president.
BEST IN THE HOUSE
According to official White House reports, the 134 invited guests dined at 13 tables in the State Dining Room; tables were topped with cream damask and beige strie. Settings featured the Clinton china (an ivory body and gold rim featuring a vignette of the White House); the "Vermeil" flatware collection from the 18th and 19th centuries; and the President's House crystal. The Vermeil collection, a bequest from Montana mining heiress Margaret Thompson Biddle, has been used at the White House for nearly 50 years.
In concert with social secretary Amy Zantzinger and White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford, Mrs. Bush developed a five-course meal:
Spring Pea Soup with Fernleaf Lavender and Chive Pizzelle with American Caviar
Dover Sole Amandine with Roasted Artichokes, Pequillo Peppers and Olives
Saddle of Spring Lamb with Chanterelle Sauce and Fricasse of Baby Vegetables
Arugula, Savannah Mustard and Mint Romaine Salad with Champagne Dressing and a Trio of Farmhouse Cheeses
"Rose Blossoms" Petits Fours with a Sugar Replica of the Queen's 1953 Coronation Rose
After dinner, guests went to the East Room to hear violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and the U.S. Army Chorus.
Security was tight for the queen's visit. "As far as impact, Washington is so buttoned-up with security now, we are just in a groove of planning and accounting for personnel, trucks and IDs as part of the daily job," Marvin Bond of Washington-based event company Hargrove Inc. tells Special Events Magazine.
White House photos by Eric Draper