Monday, July 4, 2011

Celebrating the Special Relationship and the 4th

On March 5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill spoke of a "special relationship" between the United Kingdom and the United States of America.  It is a phrase often referred to and recently questioned during President Obama's recent trip to the United Kingdom to describe the very close "political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relationship" between the two countries typified in many conflicts since 1859.

Today, July 4, 2011, it was used in speeches by U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's Louis Susman, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Secretary Condoleeza Rice, and William Hague, MP, in discussing Ronald Reagan's British relationships, particularly with that of Lady Margaret Thatcher while they fought communism together during the 1980s.  This to mark the unveiling of a statue of the president in Grosvenor Square just outside the US embassy.

Indeed it could be said that the special relationship is embodied in Grosvernor Square itself.  President Reagan joins President Eisenhower, a monument to the victims of 9.11, and the American and Canadian embassies in Grosvenor, often called the "American," Square.  These are more recent additions, as Grosvenor Square prior to the World War II was the center of aristocratic London from its building by Sir Richard Grosvenor (predecessor to the Dukes of Westminster, who have owned the major portion of West London for over two hundred years) in the early 1700s.  Writes Carol Kennedy, author of Mayfair, a Social History (1986):

"Of the first fifty-one ratepayers in Grosvenor Square, sixteen were peers, thirty-five had a title of some sort and nineteen were MPs."

The ratios of Britain's titled and elected in Grosvenor Square remained fairly constant through World War II, when it was heavily bombed during World War II.  

The "special relationship" could be said to have even begun in the square, where US ambassadors lived cheek-to-cheek with Britain's elite since the "unpleasantries" between our countries, beginning with John Adams at number 9, Walter H. Page at number 6, and John G. Winant at number 1.  The first embassy was constructed in the Square in 1938, the present embassy in 1960 (although it is set for a move to a more secure area of London).

On this day of celebrating a permanent break with the Mother Country in 1776, it seemed somewhat fitting to also celebrate the special relationship in the London square which embodies the relationship to a "tea."  

Reagan surrounded by those who lauded him in the ceremony.

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