Monday, Nov 17, 2003
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By Hasan Suroor
But the Queen is reported to have put her foot down, saying that apart from causing too much "disruption'', no amount of tinkering with the Palace's walls and windows could guarantee protection against a terrorist attack.
The newspaper quoted one courtier as saying that Mr. Bush's security men seemed "obsessed with the idea of an airborne attack on the Palace'' and wanted blast and bullet-proofed windows and curtains.
They also suggested "strengthening'' the walls of the President's suite and other rooms where he would be spending time.
But the Queen was not amused and reportedly took the view that "no amount of strengthening of windows and walls could protect the President in such an eventuality''. She was also reportedly concerned that this would cause disruption and involve "discarding original fixtures and fittings''.
There is some irritation here over what is seen as an attempt by the Americans to hijack the security arrangements for their President's visit, though normally, the host country is expected to in overall command.
Tensions have been reported over a "series of extraordinary demands'' made by Mr. Bush's security men but turned down by the British Government.
These included diplomatic immunity for President's security agents in the event of their having to open fire to protect him.
The Palace was reported to be seething at the security levels demanded by the Americans and a joke doing the rounds is that at least the Queen will not have to wear a security badge. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush, in an interview with the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme, shrugged off the protests planned against his visit, saying he was happy to be visiting a country where people were "free to say anything".
Praising the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, he said: "The good news about having a partner like Tony Blair is he won't be shaken, you see, and neither will I."
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