During his six-day tour of Europe, President Barack Obama signed the guestbook at Westminster Abbey in London. What's drawing media attention, however, is that he dated it May 24, 2008.
That was the year Obama was elected president.
Obama had just participated in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony for fallen soldiers at the Abbey’s Grave of the Unknown Warrior. In the guestbook, he wrote a poignant message: “It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage and our common sacrifice.”
However, when it came to signing his name and adding the date, the U.S. president was reportedly heard asking the Abbey’s Dean, Dr. John Hall, what the day’s date was.
He then wrote the wrong date.
The Abbey was the venue of the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Kate Middleton last month and Obama enjoyed a taste of the screaming crowds outside the Abbey, albeit on a smaller scale.
Hall shared insights into the Abbey’s illustrious history with Obama, telling him that it had been the venue for the coronation of every single King and Queen of England since William I was crowned there in 1066.
“Here every day thousands of people from all over the world including very many from the United States are welcomed as visitors and pilgrims,” said Hall.
On Wednesday, Obama became the first U.S. president to be allowed to address both British Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall.
In his address, he told the nation’s leaders that the U.S. and U.K. shared a special relationship, even if this term had been at times “over-analyzed.”
“I have come here to reaffirm one of the oldest and one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known,” he said.
“The reason for this close friendship doesn’t just have to do with our shared history, our shared heritage, our ties of language and culture, or even the strong partnership between our governments.
“Our relationship is special because of values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages.”
Obama heads to France Thursday to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan and G-8 leaders.