The diplomatic challenges facing President Obama during his overseas trip this week include this one: What gift to give his host in Britain, the queen?
Gift giving, when mishandled, can cause a kerfuffle, as Obama has already discovered. When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited the White House in March, the British press panned Obama’s presentation of DVDs of Hollywood films as declasse.
It didn’t help that the DVDs didn’t work in European players.
On Wednesday, Obama stuck with a technology gift in paying a formal visit to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. But this time he added a more personal touch.
The president, who was accompanied by the first lady, gave Her Majesty an iPod loaded with video and photographs of the queen’s 2007 visit to Jamestown, Richmond and Williamsburg, Va.
He also gave her a songbook signed by composer Richard Rodgers.
In return, the queen gave the president a silver-framed, signed photograph of her and her husband, Prince Philip, which is reported to be a standard present for visiting dignitaries.
British journalists have reported that the queen may already own an iPod -- a 6-gigabyte silver Mini, which she is said to have bought at the suggestion of Prince Andrew, one of her sons.
It is unknown whether she will find anything, beyond reminders of her Virginia visit, if she hits the “shuffle” feature on the iPod. Queen’s greatest hits, perhaps?