Bill Clinton turned down tea with the queen to eat Indian food in London

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July 21, 2021 2:14 p.m. EST
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Listen, it's kinda rare that the U.S. president is a man of good politics and of good taste. Or, actually, either of those things. One we'd like to put forth for your consideration is Bill Clinton – minus that whole affair and a few more than questionable economic and reform decisions.

As the story goes, based on newly released documents from the U.K.'s National Archives, Clinton once declined an offer of tea with Queen Elizabeth and dinner at the British Prime Minister's official country house, and you know how the Brits love their Yorkshire Gold. Now, why would he do such a thing?

Well, for good reason! Clinton said he – and his wife, Hillary – wanted to "be a tourist," and instead spend his valuable time shopping, visiting a garden and eating Indian food during his first official visit to the U.K. with Tony Blair as leader in 1997. Because what is the U.K. if not the epicentre of great Indian cuisine?

"The Americans said that the President and Mrs. Clinton were very grateful for HM The Queen's invitation to tea at the Palace, but would wish to decline politely," read a note from Blair's private secretary, Phillip Barton. How polite.

This was possibly controversial behind the scenes, as all political entities involved wanted to ensure a "public relations success." In hopes of convincing them otherwise, the Foreign Office also suggested a music session "for the president (saxophone) and the prime minister (guitar) to play together briefly (with or without other musicians who might be at the lunch)." Um, yeah, that didn't happen.

"The Americans were not attracted to our suggestion of a dinner at Chequers," the note added. Chequers was Blair's country retreat, based in Buckinghamshire, outside of London. One can hear the disdain laced under "the Americans" even now.

Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. Because not only did Liz not get tea with Bill, but he didn't get his Indian food, and that's always a crime.

Instead, one can assume due to plenty of persuasion, the Clintons joined the Blairs at the exclusive Le Pont de la Tour (which is decidedly not Indian), and feasted on the following thrilling menu items: halibut, salmon and sole. According to receipts, they spent £265 ($360) on this likely unseasoned meal.

And as we know, although Clinton and the Queen did not become besties, he and Blair did, their bond often referred to as "the special relationship." Which we can take to assume there were indeed Indian feasts in their future with samosas aplenty. One can dream anyway.  


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