Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Geithner Headed to First Obama State Dinner

This evening, Treasuey Secretary Geithner will attend the first State Dinner hosted at the White House by President Obama and the First Lady in honor of Prime Minister Singh of India and Mrs. Kaur.

Wikipedia on state dinners:
A state dinner is a dinner or banquet paid by a government and hosted by a head of state in his or her official residence in order to renew and celebrate diplomatic ties between the host country and the country of a foreign head of state or head of government who was issued an invitation. In many countries around the world, there are many different rules governed by protocol. State dinners often consist but are not limited to black tie or white tie dress, military honor guards, a four or five course meal, musical entertainment, dancing, and speeches made on behalf of the head of state hosting the state dinner as well as the foreign head of state

In the United States, a state dinner is a formal dinner, more often black tie in recent years rather than white tie, which is held in honor of a foreign head of state, such as a king, queen, president, or any head of government. A state dinner is hosted by the President of the United States and held in the State Dining Room at the White House. Other formal dinners for important people of other nations, such as a prince or princess, are called official dinners, the difference being that the federal government does not pay for them. State or official dinners are administered by strict diplomatic protocol and are overseen by a United States State Department diplomat or envoy, headed by the Chief of Protocol of the United States who issues and mails printed invitations, configures seating arrangements, as well as supervising state dinners in order to ensure that no diplomatic gaffes occur. A state dinner follows a State Arrival Ceremony which occurs on the South Lawn earlier in the day.

State dinners held in recent years are also given media coverage by the public affairs TV channel, C-SPAN.

Sequence of events

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and President George W. Bush share a toast during a 2007 state dinner held in the State Dining Room.During a state dinner, honor guards in full dress uniform from all branches of the United States armed forces will be dispatched for ceremonial duty at the White House. The President of the United States and the first lady will formally greet the visiting head of state and his or her spouse at the north portico of the White House, who have traveled in a motorcade from Blair House, the traditional guest quarters of foreign heads of state and dignitaries. A brief photo opportunity for the media at the top of the staircase will occur. The president and first lady will then escort the visiting head of state and his or her spouse to the residence floor where the president's guests of honor will be served cocktails, wine, or champagne. The president and first lady will also introduce their guests of honor to a wide array of people from the United States such as ambassadors and diplomats, members of Congress and the president's cabinet, and other prominent people who are invited at the discretion of the president and first lady.

After an informal reception on the residence floor, the president and the foreign head of state or honoree, followed by the first lady and the foreign head of state's spouse, will descend the Grand Staircase to the Entrance Hall on the state floor where they will be met by the United States Marine Band, "The President's Own". Four ruffles and flourishes, immediately followed by Hail to the Chief, serves as the fanfare for the president's arrival. Often, the national anthem of the foreign head of state's country as well as the United States national anthem will be performed.

After a receiving line whereby the president introduces the visiting head of state or honoree to all of the guests, the president and the visiting head of state or honoree, his or her spouse, and the first lady, will walk down the Cross Hall and proceed to the State Dining Room where a four or five-course dinner has been meticulously planned and prepared several months in advance by the White House executive chef, his or her team, a pastry chef, and the White House florist, all in the watchful eye and in close consultation with the first lady and her social secretary. During the actual dinner itself, both the president and the foreign head of state or honoree will give a speech on a lectern, paying tribute to diplomatic relations between the United States and the foreign head of state's country. Soon thereafter, the guests are seated in the East Room and are formally entertained by a musical ensemble such as a pianist, a singer, or an orchestra of national notoriety. On past occasions, dancing has also been a component at the conclusion of a state dinner.

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