U.S. President Barack Obama received a royal 41-gun salute at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to begin a two-day state visit aimed at ensuring the United States and Britain keep the "special" in their relationship.
The royal family, who just recently enthralled the world with a wedding for Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave Obama and his wife, Michelle, a taste of palace pomp and circumstance.
Ceremonial cannon sounded 41 blasts as Queen Elizabeth, her husband Prince Philip, heir Prince Charles and Charles's wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, escorted the Obamas onto the west terrace of the palace for their formal arrival ceremony.
Obama is on the second stop of a four-nation European tour, arriving from Ireland and planning to attend a Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France on Thursday and end the week in Poland.
While the two governments have some differences over such issues as Libya, the president and Prime Minister David Cameron stressed the unique status of U.S.-British relations in an opinion article published in the Times of London. "Not just special, but an essential relationship," they wrote. "It's not only history that binds us. Whether fighting wars or rebuilding the economy, our needs and beliefs are the same."