...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, November 13, 2003
      ( 11:12 AM )
The Royal Treatment

Originally, W's visit to London was going to be an affair of pomp and circumstance. He was set to be the first president to be received with all the royal ceremony, including a ride with the queen in her horse-drawn carriage (think Shrek meets Cinderella pumpkin). Then, Red Ken, the rowdy mayor of London, decided that he wasn't going to sit quietly by while the man who led Tony Blair by the nose into the debacle that has become Iraq had tea with the majesties. So Mayor Livingstone decided to host a reception of his own:

Yesterday Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London,
encouraged the anti-war protests by saying
he had arranged a Peace Reception for prominent
opponents of the war and subsequent "occupation"
of Iraq, next Wednesday midway through the
president's stay.

Oh, and those 100,000+ protestors at Buckingham Palace aren't planning to stand quietly and sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers."

In a call for "mass non-violent disobedience",
a collection of anti-capitalists and groups against
the Iraq war have called for demonstrators to scale
the walls of the palace when the president arrives
in Britain next Wednesday.

So of course the US government stepped in. If we have "First Amendment Zones" (read: no free speech zones) here in the U.S., why shouldn't they have them in London for the President?

Anti-war protesters claim that US authorities have
demanded a rolling "exclusion zone" around
President George Bush during his visit, as well as
a ban on marches in parts of central London.

The Stop The War Coalition said yesterday that it
had been told by the police that it would not be
allowed to demonstrate in Parliament Square and
Whitehall next Thursday - a ban it said it was
determined to resist. The coalition says that it has
also been told by British officials that American
officials want a distance kept between Mr Bush
and protesters, for security reasons and to prevent
their appearance in the same television shots.

Bush seems to believe that British citizens are bound by the same rules and he should be able to travel in ease without seeing any protestors or people who don't happen to agree that he would do nicely as Emperor of the World. And evidently, US authorities think that establishing this "rolling exclusion zone" will be adequate and possible. Have they seen an English soccer game?

Too bad - no carriage rides for the President.

Though most believe the threat will be at its
most acute as his convoy travels through London,
security lapses at the royal palaces have prompted
officers to concentrate much of their efforts on
making sure the palace cannot be breached.

A number of websites have encouraged those
opposed to the war in Iraq to test security at the
palace during the president's stay. One knowledgeable
source said: "It will take a good few officers just
to secure the perimeter".

So the London authorities are supposed to accommodate the Bush cavalcade, not to mention all the increased threat - not only from protestors but from terrorists themselves (though the Bush administration might categorize these two as the same thing). And everyone is facing the situation with happy hearts:

However there is Whitehall concern, and some
irritation, about demands made by the US secret
service - including a suggestion that Mr Bush's
motorcade must consist of no fewer than 35 cars.

Have a nice visit to London, Mr. President!

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