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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Raymond P. Martinez
U.S. Deputy Chief of Protocol

May 8, 2007

Raymond P. Martinez
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you very much for having me on “Ask the White House.” I look forward to talking with you today about the Office of the Chief of Protocol and what our role is for the President. We are responsible for many activities including the planning, hosting, and officiating of ceremonial events for visiting chiefs of state and heads of government, as well as coordinating logistics for the visits. We also manage Blair House, the President's guesthouse, and oversee all protocol matters for Presidential, Vice Presidential and Presidential delegation trips abroad.

As you know, The President and Mrs. Bush welcomed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for a State Visit yesterday at the White House. It was a beautiful day with the State Arrival Ceremony in the morning and the State Dinner in the evening. I also had the honor to greet Her Majesty last Thursday in Richmond, VA upon her arrival to the United States. There have been many other activities that have taken place during the visit, and Her Majesty is still here with a reciprocal dinner at the British Embassy this evening. The last time the Queen visited the White House was in 1991 when The President’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush, was President, so this is a very exciting time for us.

Eugene, from Palisades Park, New Jersey writes:
Why is Queen Elizabeth II's visit so special to the United States of America?

Raymond P. Martinez
The government and the peoples of the United States and the United Kingdom have unique, deep and historic ties dating to the first permanent English settlement in Jamestown 400 years ago. Her Majesty is the head of state of the United Kingdom and is beloved and respected by millions of people throughout the world. The United Kingdom is one of the strongest allies of the United States and both countries have always emphasized close cooperation. I think this relationship reflects the common language, ideals and democratic practices of our two nations. Including this visit, Her Majesty has made four state visits to the United States and one official visit. Each time Her Majesty visits the United States or the President visits the United Kingdom, it strengthens the bonds between our two nations.

Joyce, from Portland, Oregon writes:
What is the name of that wonderful fife and drum marching unit in beautiful Colonial reproduction uniforms that marches in review on so many important occasions? I have noticed that unit on many CSPAN presentations, but the unit is never named by CSPAN. Does this unit have its own website? I love good marching and drilling, and would like to know more about this group. The unit marched in review for Queen Elizabeth at the welcoming ceremony Monday morning. Last time I saw it, it marched for Donald Rumsfeld's departure ceremony. Please provide a website address.

Raymond P. Martinez
The unit is known as the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and it is the only unit of its kind in the Armed Forces. It is assigned to the III U.S. Infantry (the Old Guard) at Ft. Myers, VA. It is only one of the many units under the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, commanded by Major General Guy C. Swan III, Commander Joint Forces Headquarters National Capital Region. The unique colonial style uniforms of the unit, superb musical artistry and precision marching is a favorite of official guests and audiences attending White House ceremonial functions.

The Military District of Washington (MDW) has a multitude of responsibilities - from performing expert concerts and performances as you have referenced to rendering honors at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns to protecting the nation’s capitol. MDW plays an integral role in many of the events that the Office of the Chief of Protocol is involved with and we work with their leadership to coordinate ceremonial support for the President of the United States and visiting heads of state. I encourage you to visit their website at

Joyce, from Singapore writes:
What involves in the planning of the visit by Her Majesty?

Raymond P. Martinez
The Office of the Chief of Protocol has been working closely with a multitude of individuals and offices to ensure a safe, enjoyable and productive visit for Her Majesty and His Royal Highness. Among those offices are: the British Embassy, the United States Secret Service, the Military District of Washington, the National Security Council, the Office of the First Lady, the White House Social Office, the White House Ushers Office, Andrews Air Force Base, the Office of the Governor of Virginia and representatives of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness.

Together, we help develop a detailed schedule that ensures that necessary logistical support is provided throughout the visit and security needs are addressed and, most importantly, that Her Majesty and His Royal Highness have a successful visit to the United States. It is a team effort with many parts. As with all of their official guests, the President and First Lady take a personal interest in ensuring the comfort of our visitors and providing an atmosphere for a successful visit. In fact Joyce, I had the honor of greeting your Prime Minister last Friday, May 4, when he met with President Bush.

Steve, from St. Louis writes:
When was the last time the Queen, or another member of a royal family, stayed in the Queen's Bedroom? Is the reason she did not stay there due to cramped quarters, or is Blair Lee House just more convenient and private? Thanks.

Raymond P. Martinez
Great question Steve.

The Blair House is the President’s guest house and was purchased by the federal government during WW II. It is used primarily in its mission as the President’s guest house as well as the site for many high level diplomatic functions of the United States. It has a beautiful and graceful charm and is a perfect temporary residence for visiting heads of state and government. Besides being a historic home, it has 109 rooms so that an entire delegation accompanying a head of state can remain in close proximity to their leader. In addition, there are many areas where the visitor’s staff can work and take meals. Many leaders also meet with Cabinet members and other official members of the United States government. As you noted, it is located directly across from the White House complex so it is extremely convenient and does provide a greater degree of privacy for the visiting leader. For a virtual tour, visit

Rusty, from Ermo, SC writes:
Ambassador Martinez - what were the first words you said to the queen when welcoming her to the united states?

Raymond P. Martinez
Upon Her Majesty’s arrival in Richmond, Virginia, British Ambassador David Manning and I boarded the aircraft, as is customary, and formally welcomed Her Majesty and His Royal Highness to the United States. My specific words were “Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, on behalf of the government and the people of the United States, it is my honor to welcome you. I bring you the personal best wishes of the President and Mrs. Bush who look forward to seeing you on Monday. We are at your service.”

Thanks for your question Rusty. Ermo is a beautiful area, I was there several years ago.

Stephanie, from Maryland writes:
What is the menu for the State Dinner for Queen Elizabeth?

Raymond P. Martinez
Spring Pea Soup with Fernleaf Lavender Chive Pizzelle with American Caviar

Newton Chardonnay “Unfiltered” 2004

Dover Sole Almondine Roasted Artichokes, Pequillo Peppers and Olives

Saddle of Spring Lamb Chanterelle Sauce Fricassee of Baby Vegetables

Peter Michael “Les Pavots” 2003

Arugula, Savannah Mustard and Mint Romaine Champagne Dressing and Trio of Farmhouse Cheeses

“Rose Blossoms”

Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2004

For more information, please visit: Welcoming Queen Elizabeth II.

Dorothy, from Bellingham, WA writes:
Who determines who will be invited to the State dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip on Monday evening.

Raymond P. Martinez
The guest list is coordinated by the White House Social Office with direction from the President and Mrs. Bush.

Clay, from South Carolina writes:
I know when you meet The Queen you are required to curtsy, but when meeting The Queen's husband is it manditory to curtsey to him as well since he's only a Prince?

Raymond P. Martinez
Proper protocol would be to address the Queen as “Your Majesty” and the Prince as “Your Royal Highness” and shake hands if one is extended. United States citizens are not British subjects so they are not required to curtsy.

Tyrone, from Florida writes:
Hon. Mr. Martinez, Thank your for taking our questions. Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen of Jamaica is such a grand woman. I am glad that she was able to make the trip to the "colonies." I would like to know what official gift was presented to her by the President and what gift she present to the President and the American people on behalf of her many subjects?

Raymond P. Martinez
Tyrone, the principals conducted a leader to leader gift exchange in the Red Room of the White House immediately after the arrival ceremony. President and Mrs. Bush gave Her Majesty a bronze statuette “High Desert Princess” with a personal inscription on the bottom of the base. It is a replica of the original life size statue that is located in front of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas.

President and Mrs. Bush gave The Prince Philip an exclusive sterling silver eagle box by Tiffany & Co. with personal inscription on the inside lid.

President and Mrs. Bush gave Their Majesties a leather presentation box filled with a collection of documents from the National Archives. One of the items was a copy of an original letter from President Roosevelt to her father, King George, written in 1938. There were also photos from previous royal visits and a DVD of the footage from the Queen’s visit to the United States when she was Princess Elizabeth in 1951.

Their Majesties gave President Bush a sterling silver oversized plate by William & Son with gold seals including: the Presidential seal, the Royal seal and a center seal with the star of Texas surrounded by roses. There was a personal inscription on the back of the plate. They gave Mrs. Bush a gold and crystal clock with the Royal seal by William & Son.

The Office of the Chief of Protocol assists the President and First Lady in the selection and presentation of gifts to foreign leaders.

Raymond P. Martinez
Thank you for allowing me to take time to talk with you a little bit today about what the Office of the Chief of Protocol does and about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s State Visit to the United States. I have to run to our next event but please visit our website at to find out more information on the Office of the Chief of Protocol. Have a great day!

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