This incident which has been recently captured on CBS having US President Barrack Obama offering a toast to the Queen of England is one classic case study on the subject of diplomatic protocol of which not all of us are well aware of. Incidentally, every country has its own set of protocol for very stiff, formal State Dinners and banquets offered to visiting Heads of State. One nation’s protocol is never too close or similar to another country’s protocol ergo, incidence like what we have seen happen but for the record, it places no blame on whose fault it was for the toasts was superbly offered and received by the host.
In this, one can actually feel the sincerity of the toast of US President Obama to The Queen, with jovial and candid comments that endeared to HRH Queen Elizabeth II and to the rest of the royal guests in attendance. The impeccable speech was delivered in time however, when the toast was then offered, the anthem was played by the band. As they said, which I agree, the anthem is a nice background for the toast however, an anthem is an anthem no matter what. The President should have stopped his toasts in deference to the anthem played and resumed afterwards but it happened the way it did and even if it did, the President did a perfect job in giving the toast albeit he was taken aback why the anthem was played when he was not finished with his toasts.
The protocol officer in charged should have briefed the President on these nuances and the things that can take off unnoticed and unrehearsed. Understandably, even Presidents felt awkward in the audience and company of Monarch everywhere whose protocol and pageantry is not what we are used to.
In the White House, toasts were offered not too keenly stiff and formal depending on the closeness of the countries’ leaders to the sitting President at the White House.
In the study of protocol in many diplomatic circles, one must never forget that the best recourse is common sense. That save so much too much and too often on the safest side when use in occasion like this.