Barack Obama gave the first address in Westminster Hall by a President of the United States to Members of both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 25 May, as part of his State Visit to the UK.
Following his arrival at Sovereign’s Entrance, President Obama received a short personal tour of the Palace of Westminster.
Preceded by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, President Obama was conducted into Westminster Hall by the Lord Great Chamberlain to give his address.
President Obama’s speech focused on shared characteristics between the UK and the US, including historic ties, shared values and beliefs, and common values. His speech also covered the role the two countries have played in shaping the economic environment and conditions for emerging economies, such as Brazil, China and India; the contributions of the UK and USA to the global economy; the situations in Afghanistan, Middle Eastern and North African countries; the rights of women and of citizens; and the rights and responsibilities of all nations.
Commons Speaker, John Bercow MP, gave a welcome address introducing President Obama’s speech.
The Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman, gave a valedictory address thanking President Obama following his speech.
Throughout its history, Westminster Hall has been used for occasions of state, important ceremonies and events of national significance. Built in 1097, it survived the fire of 1834 that destroyed the original Palace. It is the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster.
Westminster Hall has provided the venue for the presentation of addresses to Members of both Houses of Parliament by four other of heads of state. Most recently Pope Benedict XVI gave an address in Westminster Hall in 2010. Two previous US Presidents have addressed Members of both Houses of Parliament – President Reagan in 1982 and President Clinton in 1995. Both gave their addresses in the Royal Gallery.
Image: Parliamentary copyright