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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 20, 2003
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Media Availability in London
Buckingham Palace Museum
4:20 P.M. (L)
MRS. BUSH: I'll come talk to the press for a minute and tell you what a wonderful time we're having on our trip here. I want everyone here in Great Britain to know that this collection, Faberge collection here at the Queen's gallery opens tomorrow, so people can come see all these beautiful pieces of Faberge. A lot of things I didn't know about Faberge, for instance, the carved horses and dogs and animals that Faberge did, as well as the beautiful, magnificent eggs, which are mostly associated with Faberge. So I want to encourage people to come see this.
And one of the nicest things about staying here at Buckingham Palace is that you can right to these galleries, look around and see these really beautiful examples of art from the Queen's collection. And, of course, we're also getting to live with them for the two nights we've spent here, the paintings, for instance, that in our suite.
So are there any questions about our trip?
Q Mrs. Bush, could you tell us about your meeting with the families of the war dead today, what you and the President might have had to say? And whether you heard any concerns from the families about the course of U.S. and British policy in Iraq?
MRS. BUSH: The families were unbelievably strong. Once again, I'm struck by the strength of the families of our servicemen and women, both British and American, who are deployed overseas in Baghdad or Iraq or Afghanistan.
The families were very strong, they comforted us. We went, of course, to try to comfort them, but they really ended up comforting us. Most of them said, stay the course, keep going. They knew that their sons, in this case, men, sons were totally behind what was happening, they were proud to be serving for their country. And we were really proud to visit with the parents and the loved ones.
Q Mrs. Bush, can you tell us how you and your husband have spent your time in the palace? Have you actually been able to walk around? What have you done?
MRS. BUSH: Yes. I've gone on tours, I've walked around, I've looked at the really fabulous paintings that are everywhere, great art and the beautiful furniture. Yesterday, when I went around on the tour through the picture galleries of the other areas, I actually saw the set up for the dinner last night, for the banquet, and that was very interesting to see, the way the table was set up with actually a yardstick, a ruler, there so that every place was -- put on the table with the exact measurements, exactly -- each plate was exactly the same distance apart. And that was interesting for me to see because, of course, I'm always involved in the set up when we have a state dinner at the White House -- we're not exactly that exact, but it was really fun to see the room set up.
And the flowers here are beautiful, the flowers in our room, the flowers on the tables last night. And if you walk out -- or if you came in through the entrance hall here to the Queen's galleries you would have seen the gold plate that was used last night. In fact, there is a little card where a piece has been removed from the collection, that says, this piece was removed because they were used for the state dinner for the President of the United States.
Of course, during the dinner we got a really close-up view of those magnificent pieces. Do you call them plates?
CHIEF CURATOR: Silver gilt.
MRS. BUSH: Silver gilt. We call it "vermeil," but I think our vermeil at the White House is copper, and this is silver, with gilt, with gold.
Q Mrs. Bush, what do you think of your reception in Britain?
MRS. BUSH: Well, the reception has actually been very, very, very good. We've met many friends. We've met old friends, people that we've known for years. Last night at the banquet, one of my husband's friends from Scotland, that he went over to visit when he was 14, came to -- my husband went over there when he was 14, and my husband and I went back for this young man's wedding in 1982, I think, is when he married -- our girls were one years old.
So we've seen old friends, people we've known forever. We've met a lot of new friends. Today, at 10 Downing Street, Mrs. Blair invited authors, some of my favorite authors, English authors, to have a chance to meet, and that was really a thrill for me. I met writers whose works I've admired for years, Tom Stoppard, Ian McEwan, whose book, "Atonement," I just read. Mary Hoffman, who wrote "Amazing Grace," which is a story that I read to American children a lot when I visit schools. So that was a huge thrill.
We saw the Shakespeare program, the Shakespeare in the Schools program, and met Chris Grace, who actually designed the Shakespeare program that school classes -- that 12 through 14 year olds do these, have written these shortened plays of Shakespeare. They're about 30 minutes long and we saw three different troupes from three different parts of England.
And right now, our National Endowment for the Arts is touring very good Shakespeare companies around the United States, to medium-sized and small towns that wouldn't have the opportunity to see Shakespeare. And I think this program that I saw today would be a great accompaniment to those tours for American high school students to get to preform Shakespeare, as well.
Q And what about the protests, Mrs. Bush?
MRS. BUSH: Well, we actually have not seen that many protests. I don't think the protests are near as large as everyone was predicting before we got there. We've seen plenty of American flags, we've seen plenty of people who were waving to us -- many, many more people, in fact, than we've seen protestors, who were welcoming us here, and I appreciate that.
Q Mrs. Bush, can you tell us about your conversations with the Queen, and how you found her?
MRS. BUSH: I found her very hospitable and very lovely. I had a really good time being with both Her Majesty and His Highness, His Royal Highness, Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales, as well.
In many ways they tried to make us feel very comfortable, and you can imagine that we're slightly intimidated, if you can guess, that someone from Texas might be a little amazed that they would find themselves staying at Buckingham Palace. But we've really liked that.
We like a lot of the same things. We have dogs that we love. We have two little horses on our ranch. So there are a lot of things, a lot of similarities that we have.
Q How did you react to news of the intruder in the palace?
MRS. BUSH: How did we what?
Q React to that? I understand the President was informed after his arrival about the Daily Mirror reporter.
MRS. BUSH: I actually just read it in the newspaper. If the President was informed, he failed to inform me. (Laughter.)
Thanks, you all. Thanks so much. Thanks to all the people of Great Britain for their hospitality.