Now I want to recognize our chef today. A native of Birmingham, England – not Alabama – (laughter) – who made herself a home in New York City as the executive chef of a couple of very hip restaurants. One, The Spotted Pig, the other The Breslin. So it’s really a delight to have April Bloomfield with us. She was just talking with the Prime Minister – (applause) – it was a very timely introduction because when the Prime Minister and President Obama exchanged gifts, President Obama gave the Prime Minister a barbeque. I mean a real, down-home American barbeque with a smoking compartment and everything else. So April stands ready to help, Prime Minister.
We joke about the special relationship, but that’s because we’re so comfortable with it. It means such a great deal to us. It is not just because of a wide range of shared interests, but our deeply rooted history and the unbreakable friendship between our countries. Now, of course the President did remind the Prime Minister at the White House ceremony this morning that we are at the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. (Laughter.)
And I was pleased to tell my counterpart and friend, the Foreign Secretary, and also the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it was my predecessor in one of my other lives, Dolly Madison, who actually saved the extraordinary portraits of George and Martha Washington. Having received word from her husband, who was truly been a commander-in-chief in the field, that unfortunately the British truly were coming. And – (laughter) – so she rushed from the White House, taking some treasures with her, leaving behind the meal that she had prepared for her husband and his officers. And the British officers ate the meal before they burned the White House. So – (laughter) – we are looking forward, but nevertheless, there are certain memories that are also of significance.
And how wonderful it is, here we are today and working together in so many important parts of the world: helping to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan; helping to promote successful transitions and democratic reforms in the Arab world. We worked alongside each other to end a dictator’s rule in Libya. We are now focused on helping the people of Syria realize a better future for themselves. We are grateful for the leadership that the Prime Minister and his government have shown on so many issues – just recently, I was in London for a conference on Somalia that they sponsored. No matter what the issue, we are standing together.
So I know, Prime Minister and Samantha, that this is just a small measure of hospitality to try to demonstrate our commitment and appreciation for this relationship. We were so well treated when the President and I and our teams were on a state visit last year sponsored by the government, of course, her Majesty’s Government. So, we did the best we could with the weather. We think we pulled that off quite well. But it is now my great pleasure to welcome a dear friend, a great American, and a superb vice president, Joe Biden. (Applause.)