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BBC Reporters Timeline - wednesday

- | 20.11.2003 03:21 | Bush 2003 | Indymedia | London

wow bbc ran regular timeline updates on today's events

Reporters' log: Bush in Britain
The BBC's team of correspondents bring you news updates, as they happen, on President George Bush's state visit to the UK.

Buckingham Palace :: Brian Hanrahan :: 2105GMT

After a long day of pageantry today, the leaders will get down to politics tomorrow and we have one hint of what might be coming. Charles Kennedy the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he was told by George Bush that if the sore point of the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay were raised by Mr Blair, then they would be sent back for trial in the United Kingdom-if that's what Tony Blair wanted.

The Ballroom, Buckingham Palace :: Mark Orchard :: 2040GMT

Palace staff are just putting the finishing touches to a stunning, and enormous, U-shaped table in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace. Soon the Queen and President Bush will sit down with one hundred and thirty guests for a meal which starts with soup and continues with halibut followed by chicken with cabbage and potatoes.

The Scots Guards will provide the music from a balcony which overlooks the table and they'll be playing a range of songs from 'South Pacific' to the theme from the television mini-series 'Band of Brothers'. A large pipe organ with beautiful gilded pipes will also be heard during the evening. The banquet's main courses will be served on the Silver Gilt service and the Coronation glass of 1953 is being used for the drinks.

There's no trace of nervous anticipation here, just a group and men and women quietly getting ready to serve dinner.

Buckingham Palace :: Brian Hanrahan :: 2015GMT

I think President Bush will see it as quite a satisfactory day. Just as the pictures of the demonstrations overemphasised their importance, as there was only a small amount of demonstrators, so the pictures of him with the Queen will overemphasise the strength of his welcome. There was hardly anybody in the streets to see him, because he wasn't in the streets himself.

He was actually inside Buckingham Palace, he hasn't ventured out at all except in these sealed Cadillac's with their armoured plating. So I think what the viewers in the US will see is the president getting a very warm welcome, and some nasty demonstrators. But they won't appear too bad.

Buckingham Palace :: Brian Hanrahan :: 1940GMT

We're seeing the cars lining up to get into Buckingham Palace as the guests arrive for the state banquet this evening. There'll be short toasts and speeches from George Bush and the Queen, all essential parts of a state visit.

The demonstrators are still in the Mall, but its good humoured. They've got some flashing light and windmills, but so far it's a very peaceful evening outside here. We shouldn't get the demonstration out of proportion, its a few hundred people, not particularly rowdy or noisy.

It has been a picture-rich day, and there'll be more pictures to come.

City Hall, London :: Tim Donovan :: 1850GMT

The mayor Ken Livingstone has just got up on his feet. There are about 200 people here at City Hall. He said this is just how he envisaged it. Nobody would complain if he put on such a function for business staff or ambassadors.

But he said it was incredibly important for those of us who believe the way forward is peace, to hold events such as this as a counterpoint to the official events. He also said the war in Iraq had been devastating for the insecurity it brings.

Buckingham Palace :: Justin Webb :: 1825GMT

The White House has told us within the last half hour or so that both the president and his staff are delighted. They think it has gone really well, the president really enjoyed the ceremonial this morning. They say his speech went down well, the audience were appreciative, he wasn't heckled of course.

They say when the president met the families of British people who died in the World Trade centre he was in expansive mood.

And yet there is this sense here that it is a slightly sterile state visit, simply because he hasn't been out and met ordinary people. He hasn't done the handshaking, he hasn't met ordinary people in crowds. But generally they think it's gone very well.

Buckingham Palace :: Brian Hanrahan :: 1806GMT

There's been no real change in George Bush's message, certainly no change in the underlying policies. If people thought he was just throwing out random ideas, what he's done today is join up the dots to make it crystal clear what he's talking about.

He does have a philosophy of foreign affairs, it is coherent, it's just not very popular on this side of the Atlantic. He's willing to go to the UN and use it, if as he puts it, the UN can meet the challenge. If not he's willing to use United States force to achieve his objectives, which he says is to spread freedom and democracy.

Buckingham Palace :: Dominic Casciani :: 1702GMT

One man has just been arrested outside Buckingham Palace after he apparently stole a policeman's hat.

The incident started when the protester ran from one side of the crowd to the other waving a policeman's hat in the air.

A number of police officers rugby tackled the man - prompting howls of protest from the other demonstrators.

After a noisy five minute stand-off, police officers led the man away with no further incident. The main casualty appears to be the Queen's flower beds which have now been thoroughly trampled.

Buckingham Palace :: Andy Tighe :: 1610GMT

A relatively small number of protesters have made their way down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace where they have effectively been cut of by the substantial police numbers who have been visible all day today.

Several hundred people would perhaps be a generous assessment of how many people made it there. It was a very peaceful demonstration. They walked for an hour or so from the other side of the river.

The protesters see this as a kind of curtain raiser. They are still talking about getting 100,000 people marching down Whitehall tomorrow, past number 10 Downing Street for a big assembly around this time tomorrow in Trafalgar Square.

Buckingham Palace :: Catherine Marston :: 1600GMT

I've been here since breakfast time and there was hardly anybody here, just a few Americans to see their president and other onlookers. There wasn't really any need for all the barriers - it was really very very low key.

In the last 20 minutes the numbers have swelled - people on bicycles, some with flags and whistles - the most we've seen all day given that it's the visit of an American president.

We are not talking thousands but there are many people here now and it is likely that the numbers may increase as Bush returns to the palace.

Buckingham Palace :: Dominic Casciani :: 1559GMT

About 300 students from various London colleges have been allowed within 100 yards of Buckingham Palace. For many of them here it is almost achieving a lifetime ambition of staging a revolutionary march on the palace. There are police spotters everywhere watching the students from all angles.

At least a dozen officers are on the roof of the palace while hundreds are dotted around the roads leading to its front gates. The household cavalry has just trotted past on its way to barracks, sparking boos and jeers from some of the students.

Edinburgh :: Elizabeth Quigley :: 1555GMT

President Bush might be more than 400 miles away in London but for protesters in Edinburgh this afternoon, it's not far away enough. A crowd of around 600 gathered in the centre of the city not far from Edinburgh University's students' union.

The bulk of the protesters were students carrying banners telling Bush to go home and protesting about the war in Iraq. But there were school pupils there as well. As the march came to a halt outside the Scottish Parliament, the cheers and shouts against Bush and a whole range of his policies grew louder.

One young woman wearing a t-shirt with the stars and stripes emblazoned on the front made her feelings very clear. "I'm very proud of my President but I'm ashamed of Kyoto and worried that oil controls him," she said. "And I'm very proud to be an American but I'm ashamed that we produce 25 per cent of the world's carbon emissions."

Buckingham Palace :: Catherine Marston :: 1545GMT

The police are making sure that the protesters aren't venturing anywhere where they shouldn't be. That's caused some anger but we've not really seen any scenes of disturbance as yet. But there are a huge quantity of people now arrived here. The police presence has increased rapidly.

Whitehall :: Dominic Casciani :: 1540GMT

The police presence in Whitehall, the heart of government, is far higher than normal.

Every 50 yards you come across at least two police officers, and they all look very bored. On King Charles Street, the side road linking the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to St James' Park, there are more than a dozen police vans. Each of them is full of officers waiting for something to happen - but clearly they are not needed because most of the officers are asleep.

Scotland Yard :: Margaret Gilmore :: 1535GMT

This is the sort of thing (protestors running towards Buckingham Palace) that the police were expecting . They know that there are groups out there who want to be a bit livelier than the main protest, and they're expecting a little bit more of this as the afternoon and evening wears on.

But they've brought in police around them quickly to cut them off. They've got certain streets where there are literally van loads of police ready to come in and do their pincer movement and move protestors to where they want them, or just cut them off.

Trafalgar Square :: Dominic Casciani :: 1505GMT

The main protest of the day has dispersed from Trafalgar Square - but a small number of noisy and colourful demonstrators remain.

They are banging drums and dancing under a miserable sky while the noticeably high number of police officers watch on from a distance.

Many protesters say they want to take non-violent direct action during this state visit. In Trafalgar Square this is taking the form of scribbling messages in chalk on the pavement.

So far there are about 100 messages in different colours all around Nelsons Column.

Banqueting House, Whitehall :: Guto Harri :: 1410GMT

Downing Street remains confident that a majority of people on balance think that the right thing was done in Iraq. And that Iraq is a better place, and the world a safer place without Saddam Hussein.

But as far as a lot of people are concerned they can't get over this cardboard cut-out of this gun slinging Texan who's a warmonger. Who goes around the world oblivious to the effect he has on certain countries, oblivious to what he does to multilateral institutions.

And perhaps he took them head on there talking about why he did what he did. Whether he persuades them or not I'm not sure because the aftermath of this war has left a lot of people sore. If this visit does anything, it's reminding a lot of people just how angry they still feel over this war they think we should never have been involved in.

Glasgow :: Duncan Kirkhope :: 1340GMT

Several hundred protestors gathered in Glasgow's George Square, to be addressed by speakers claiming that George Bush was evil. One of the speakers was an American woman from Vermont.

Marching around the square with their banners and placards, the demonstrators were accompanied by an effigy of the president, with a skeletal-like head, and blood soaked hands.

Banqueting Hall, Whitehall :: James Robbins :: 1325GMT

President Bush has been speaking now for a few minutes. We haven't yet got to the critical passages, but the president will be asserting the right of America to fight for peace and freedom and the importance he attaches to what he calls "effective multilateralism".

In other words, he'll consult international bodies, but he reserves the right to act in what he sees as America's interest.

Trafalgar Square :: Rachel Ellison :: 1320GMT

The march through central London to Trafalgar Square, in protest against President Bush's foreign policy and the war in Iraq, was noisy and good-natured.

Organisers wanted it to be an alternative state procession, with a horse-drawn carriage at the front, carrying look-alikes of George Bush and the Queen. Other demonstrators carried cardboard nuclear missiles and dressed as weapons inspectors.

Although President Bush is being kept well away from this and other protests planned to coincide with his four day state visit, these demonstrators want Americans back home to know the strength of feeling felt by some people in Britain.

It must be stressed that not everyone living here feels the same way. In a poll conducted earlier this week, forty-three percent of people said they welcomed George Bush, compared to thirty-six percent who said they did not.

White House Media Centre, London :: Justin Webb :: 1350GMT

Blink and it was over. Well, not quite - the forty one guns took a while to go off - but the event itself, viewed from outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, seemed strangely truncated and almost lame. The military bands played, the soldiers marched, the President and the Queen did their stuff, but there was no-one to watch.

The focus of the ceremony was inside the gates of the Palace so the great British public never felt invited and, with the exception of a hundred or so hardy souls, they didn't show up. A few people jogging in the park across the road or hurrying to work paused for a moment but most just rushed on by.

This was a glittering spectacle without an audience. It was a film-set, not a theatre.

Trafalgar Square :: Dominic Casciani :: 1230GMT

At least 600 protestors have now reached Trafalgar Square, the end of the first demonstration against President George Bush's visit.

So far the protests have been jovial and good natured-characterised by witty chants and well-organised marshalling.

As the protestors walked through central London, complete with a big pink tank, many of the bystanders showed their support.

What's been obvious so far is that this protest cuts across all social and political groups.

Not only are the usual left-wing groups in the march, but there are a fair few people you'd be more likely to see at a Countryside Alliance protest.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Mark Orchard :: 1200GMT

The White House tells us that President Bush has given the Queen some gifts. Two silver platters and a porcelain bowl. Apparently the Queen gave Mr Bush a sterling silver ruler engraved with the names of past US presidents, a book about the Crown Jewels and a jewel box.

Meanwhile the US press corps here in London who've so far had trouble interesting their editors in this visit have seized on The Mirror's intruder story. Footmangate perhaps?

The Mall :: Catherine Marston :: 1150GMT

It is pretty low-key here. Not that many people not that much excitement.

There is about an hour or so to go before President Bush leaves the Palace and drives down the Mall and that will really be the first chance for people to see him.

But there really aren't huge amounts of people here. Security levels have been high this morning and around us now there are police officers are out and about in reasonably large numbers.

But the flags are out and the pomp and ceremony will continue.

London's South Bank :: Dominic Casciani :: 1130GMT

At least 400 people have gathered to join the alternative state procession which will soon be leaving from the South Bank of the Thames as the first official protest of the day.

The mood here is jovial and the police presence minimal.

At the head of this alternative procession is the 'royal carriage', carrying 'the Queen' and a very different 'President Bush'.

Speaking to reporters before setting off, 'The President' said: "Your little country makes a great runway and I'm delighted it is so easy to get social security out of your Prime Minister Tony Blair".

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Justin Webb :: 1100GMT

You might have expected a strong reaction from the White House to this morning's Daily Mirror scoop about Palace security - you'd be wrong.

The President is the best-protected man in the world and the United States Secret Service has a well-earned reputation for not leaving things to chance.

Even while he is staying at the Palace Mr Bush will always be under the protection of his own security detail.

Perhaps that's why when I asked a White House official whether he still had confidence in British security he looked a little bored and said, "of course we do.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Catherine Marston :: 1025GMT

Things are drawing to a close here and we can see some of the guests leaving now.

There were no huge crowds here. There have been a few protesters.

You can still hear a few people shouting "Go home Bush" but that is really as animated as it has got here.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Mark Davies :: 1020GMT

The crowd of tourists, curious bystanders and protesters gathered outside Buckingham Palace can only have caught the briefest of glimpses of President Bush as he was wlcomed to the UK by the Queen.

There were some boos and a couple of cries of "Go home"- but only a few as the band played the Star Spangled Banner, while they were also clapped for the National Anthem at the end.

But despite the massive interest in President Bush's visit and the line of tents hosting TV networks from around the world, such was the security that it was an extremely low-key event.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Paul Reynolds :: 1005GMT

Protester Joe Gittings brought out a megaphone during the arrival ceremony and started a series of chants to the tune of 'She'll be coming round the mountain'.

The first was "If you think that Blair's a poodle, shout woof woof". However, of the hundred or so people lining this part of the barriers only two joined in with him.

He then started singing Yankee Poodle Tony Blair to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy whereupon two City of London policemen approached him, took him to one side, and told him that there were a number of US citizens nearby and there could be a breach of the peace.

He asked "Will I be arrested if I carry on?" and was told "There is every chance".

Mr Gittings did not thereafter pick up his megaphone.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Brian Hanrahan :: 1000GMT

President Bush steps out of his car for the formal beginning of his state visit.

The Queen is presenting the Prime Minister - a quick hand shake with Tony Blair although they will be spending a lot of time together over the next few days.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Home Secretary David Blunkett and among others the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Lord Mayor of Westminster.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Leslie Ashmall :: 1000GMT

There are certainly hundreds and hundreds of people here now. Maybe not as many as everyone expected to see.

There are lots of Police officers eagerly watching the crowd.

I would say the crowd has probably been doubled in size by the number of media here - media from all over the world. We didn't get a very good view of the President though.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Brian Hanrahan :: 0955GMT

The National anthem has started to play as the Queen arrives on the forecourt in order to begin the ceremony.

The first of the guns have fired the 41 gun salute, warning us that President Bush has arrived - stepping out of the back door of the palace into a car and round to the front of the palace - a rather unusual occurance.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Brian Hanrahan :: 0940 GMT

At the moment it is very relaxed here, with everyone standing around and waiting for the Queen to arrive.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has just arrived to take his position on the stand.

The band of the Grenadier Guards at the gates of the palace are playing in order to set the scene.

The timing is perhaps not exactly as the White House would have wished. They like these things to take place for breakfast television in America but it's a bit early for that but nonetheless it will be replayed and put onto the screens in America later on as people are waking up.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Mark Davies :: 0940 GMT

It was eerily quiet walking up Birdcage Walk and through St James' Park on the approach to Buckingham Palace.

The usual traffic chaos was replaced by just the Stars and Stripes flapping in the wind and the sound of a helicopter whirring over-head.

At the palace itself a small crowd of interested onlookers and some protesters are awaiting the ceremony as a military band plays outside.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Catherine Marston :: 0915 GMT

A big marquee has been erected outside the palace for President Bush's arrival.

It looks rather incongruous alongside the building, and we can see, just on the top of the palace, police marksmen that have been there throughout the night.

That really is an indication of the police presence here outside Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace is effectively out of bounds now - immediately across from us are the world's press. You can make out their satellite trucks, their tents and all the camera crews and of course they are all here to report on George Bush's visit.

As you move round Buckingham Palace you get a sense of the work that's going on even now, police on bikes and on foot, all lined up.

Although Bush won't be seen today, just looking down the Mall you see all the flags and get a real sense of all the pageantry that's expected.

We were expecting crowds but the fact of the matter is that George Bush isn't really going to be visible so a lot of people have probably stayed away, but in terms of people cramming here today to get a glimpse we haven't seen anyone.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Paul Reynolds :: 0915 GMT

Only a handful of people are here so far and they are outnumbered by police and reporters.

Bush supporter John Ahern from Dunstable in Bedfordshire has draped the American and British flags over the crowd barriers. "I think Bush is a great man from a great country," he says.

Kay Moult from Long Ditton in Surrey was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with "Luv Ya Dubya".

Protester Jo Gettings from London had put up a "Stop Bush" placard. He said: "I am outraged that he has come over here and is wasting taxpayers' money to celebrate his non-victory in Iraq."

Outside Buckingham Palace :: Leslie Ashmall :: 0716 GMT

There aren't many protesters here at the moment - I counted about four or five earlier on and I think some of them have gone for a coffee.

But don't be fooled - the police are certainly expecting crowds of people down here at the Palace.

Those familiar metal crowd control barriers have been erected right around this area.

In fact, right in front of Buckingham Palace you are not allowed to go at all now - that is now a sterile area, they are saying.

The Mall as well - there are police officers lining that too. The Mall looks rather attractive - it's got Union Jacks and the Stars and Stripes out and there is a circus of television stations just to my left, broadcasting all over the world at all times of the day as well.

Buckingham Palace itself looks peculiar.

It's got a temporary stage that's been erected outside the front where the ceremony will take place later on today.

I don't mean to be disrespectful - it does look a little like a large Punch and Judy theatre but they are covering it with flowers and finishing it off as we speak so maybe it will look a little better later on.

Outside Buckingham Palace :: June Kelly :: 0700 GMT

This morning the presidential visit has been slightly overshadowed by the discovery that an undercover reporter managed to expose security flaws by gaining access to Buckingham Palace.

This security breach is highly embarrassing for the palace - these are the sort of headlines the palace did not want to see this morning and one can imagine the kind of angst it has caused amongst security officials.

But we don't think this will alter the president's plans.



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