Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 28, 2012

Thatcher papers show fascination with Reagan visit

LONDON (AP) — It is not often that the president of the United States needs to seek fashion advice.

But when Ronald Reagan was getting ready for a visit to England as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1982, his people had an important question for the Brits: Just what does one wear to go riding with the queen in the magnificent horse country surrounding Windsor Castle?

The answer: Something smart, but casual, of course. Riding boots, breeches and a turtleneck sweater would do fine — no need for formal riding attire.

The fashion inquiry is but one tidbit contained in nearly 500 pages of formerly Confidential documents relating to the Reagan visit being made public Friday by Britain's National Archives. The dossier shows the British government — led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — to be extraordinarily interested in pleasing the relatively new president on his two-day visit. British leaders also fretted that perennial cross-Channel rivals might triumph in the tug-of-war for presidential face time in a visit that had to be sandwiched between two summits on the European mainland.

The papers show that top Reagan adviser Michael Deaver had a way of annoying his British counterparts with last-minute changes and requests, and also surprised them with some of his objectives. Deaver, remembered as a shrewd image-builder, said he wanted Reagan to be photographed outside of formal venues, so he wouldn't be seen "exclusively in white tie" at palace functions, even suggesting that Reagan go to a village pub to soak up the atmosphere

There were raised eyebrows, and bruised feelings, when the White House failed to formally reply in a timely fashion to an official invitation from the queen — the sort of invite that usually commands respect and a prompt reply the world over. The queen's invite was left to languish for weeks and weeks, something that the British believe is simply Not Done.

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