Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 28, 2012

Thatcher papers show fascination with Reagan visit

(Continued)

"It is really for the president to respond to her invitation, which he has not done personally, something that I have pointed out several times here," writes Nicholas Henderson, Britain's ambassador to Washington, in a memo to the British Foreign Office. "As you know those surrounding the president are not deliberately rude: It is simply that they are not well-organized and do not have experience of this sort of thing."

William F. Sittman, a special assistant to Reagan who was involved in planning the trip, told The Associated Press that it is possible the delay in responding to the queen was caused by first lady Nancy Reagan's insistence on consulting her astrologer before travel plans were finalized.

"You have to remember that Mrs. Reagan was very strict about his schedule, and she would consult her astrologer to see if this was the right time to travel," he said. "Sometimes she would back up departures."

The documents make clear that Europe's leaders were desperate for Reagan's attention at a time of high Cold War tensions. A memo from U.K. Cabinet Secretary Robert Armstrong on Feb. 5 expresses concern that a gala, summit-closing dinner at the palace of Versailles outside Paris could delay Reagan's arrival in London. But he warns against pressuring the Reagan entourage to skip the meal at Versailles' Hall of Mirrors because "that would not please the President of the French Republic."

Reagan's aides also worried the British by suggesting the president might have to skip the stop in London because accepting it might anger the Germans, who had offered a similar invitation. But feelings are smoothed over a bit when the Americans assure the British contingent that the Germans are not America's top priority.

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