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Clinton preferred shopping to tea with Elizabeth II

Former US President Bill Clinton refused to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain during his first official visit to London in 1997. As The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday, citing documents distributed by the British National Archive, the head of the White House (he served as president from 1993-2001) preferred to spend his free time in the capital as an ordinary tourist.

According to the publication, the office of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997-2007) was ready to do everything possible to organize the visit of the American leader, considering the meeting an important event for establishing good working relations between London and Washington. Buckingham Palace, in turn, sent an invitation through Downing Street to the Clintons for a traditional tea party with the monarch.

However, Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary refused the offer of the royal house. “The Americans said that President and Mrs. Clinton were very grateful for the invitation of Her Majesty the Queen to tea at the palace, but they want to politely decline,” Blair's personal secretary Philip Barton noted in his notes. The assistant to the prime minister also recorded that the American administration was not interested in the offer to have dinner with the head of the British government at the Chequers country residence.

According to declassified documents, President Clinton, who studied at Oxford in his youth, expressed a desire to spend time in London as a tourist, go shopping in the capital, and try Indian cuisine.

According to The Daily Telegraph, following negotiations between the Clinton administration and the office of the newly elected Labour Leader Blair, it was decided that on the day of the visit, the president and the prime minister will hold a joint press conference, and in the evening, the leaders of the countries with their spouses will have dinner at a French restaurant near Tower Bridge. As noted in the newspaper, between the conference and a trip to a restaurant, Clinton, as he wanted, spent his free time in the British capital.

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