Bush Greeted By Queen As Protests Continue

July 7, 2008 - 7:14 PM

(1st Update: Adds details of speech, security developments.)

London (CNSNews.com) - President Bush was officially welcomed to Great Britain by Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday before delivering what administration officials described as a "major foreign policy speech," but security concerns led to the cancellation of a scheduled public appearance outside the U.S. Embassy.

The president planned to meet with the relatives of British victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in a memorial garden in Grovesnor Square, but the event was shifted to inside the heavily fortified building.

In addition, a traditional carriage ride down The Mall, the main avenue leading from Buckingham Palace, was called off.

A mixed group of protesters and well-wishers gathered outside the palace to catch a glimpse of the U.S. president Wednesday morning.

Anti-war and anti-Bush protests continued around the city, with the main demonstration scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

During a speech at the Banqueting Hall in the heart of London on Wednesday, Bush set out "three pillars" of global security and made a robust defense of the use of force in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Bush praised the "old and tested" U.S.-U.K. alliance and said that "great responsibilities have fallen once again to the great democracies."

"Together, our nations are standing and sacrificing for this high goal in a distant land at this very hour," he said.

Security concerns

In meetings in London and northern England this week, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are expected to talk about a range of topics, including ongoing operations in Iraq, steel tariffs, North Korea, Iran and British prisoners being held by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay.

Police in London are on high alert due to protests and a reported al Qaeda terror threat.

On Monday night, a veteran protester, 61-year-old Lindis Percy, was able to get through the police cordon around Buckingham Palace. She attached a banner to the palace gates before coming down voluntarily.

Security fears at the palace itself were again raised on Wednesday morning when The Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper splashed the story of an undercover reporter on its front page. Ryan Parry managed to get a job as a footman at the palace by using false references.

Parry had access to large parts of the palace and wrote in the newspaper that if he wanted to, he could have assassinated the queen or President Bush "with absolute ease."

"To our surprise and then mounting horror we discovered that our man with no training, no experience at all, no real vetting was in very close proximity to the most important people in our country," the paper's editor, Piers Morgan, told BBC radio.

The revelations led Home Secretary David Blunkett to announce a security review focused on the screening of job applicants.

Blunkett told the House of Commons that current safeguards weren't sufficient and would be examined by the independent Security Commission.

The security breaches came as London police mounted a security effort described as the biggest ever undertaken in British history, with thousands of extra officers on the streets.

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