Recently England’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown made his first state visit to the Obamas. It is customary for gifts to be exchanged. I remember the press having a field day over the bomber jacket that G.W. gave the normally very formally dressing head of state. Not exactly something that he would wear, but come on, who in their heart of hearts doesn’t really want a fur-lined leather bomber jacket, even if it just hangs in the closet unworn? I’d love it, and wear it. It’s cool. Not a gift I’d give a head of state though. Bad gift number one.
But bad gift number one is probably looking pretty good these days!!
For his first visit to the first black president of the United States, Prime Minister Brown clearly put a great deal of thought into the gifts he brought for the Obamas, and for their children. The gift I believe shows the depth of his thought the most was an ornamental pen holder hewn from the timbers of the 19th century Royal Navy anti-slave ship HMS Gannet. In 1909 the HMS Gannet was renamed HMS President. A poignant and relevant gift all the way around. There’s more though. In the oval office sits a famous desk which was born out of the timbers of another famous ship, HMS Resolute. The Resolute was a British ship which sank in the Arctic and was retrieved and returned to Queen Victoria by Rutherford Hayes. The queen had the desk built from its timbers as a thank you. PM Brown presented Barak Obama with the framed commission for the Resolute. The Gannet and the Resolute were sister ships. Man, he really knows how to gift a gift! Oh, but he wasn’t done YET! He also gave our newly minted president a first edition set of Sir Martin Gilbert’s biography on Winston Churchill. Whew. Those aren’t gifts you can run down to 7-11 and get on your way to the party.
But he still wasn’t done. Mr. and Mrs. Brown also brought gifts for the Obama girls.
Sasha and Malia an outfit each from Topshop and six children’s books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America.
And what did President Obama give as a gift to the leader of the country who stands the strongest next to us? He gave him bad gift number two.
A set of 25 DVDs. Yeah. DVDs. As if the gift itself lacked thought, as a general rule, DVDs made in America don’t even work in UK DVD players. I can only hope that at least whoever did the actual gift set purchasing realized this and purchased a set that would play in the players of that region. Or maybe someone did their homework and found out that the Browns DVD players are all region players, but boy, do I doubt both of those scenarios…
And what did the Obamas get the Brown kids? Replicas of Marine One helicopters.
Embarrassing at best. Insulting at worst. Either the Obamas put a great deal of thought into the gifts and thought they were appropriate….embarrassing. Or they put a great deal of thought into the gifts and knew they were inappropriate and were intended to send a message…insulting. I’m not sure there’s an in-between. Unless they let some intern pick up the gifts which just shows the lack of interest the Obamas have in treating the leader of a country who has been our greatest ally and friend. To me there’s just no good reason for these pathetic gifts.
The media in the UK is reportedly appalled. They should be.
No gift at all would have been better than the ones that were presented.