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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 03/14/2012

David Cameron at White House: ‘Official visit,’ but ‘state dinner’

A place setting at last year’s state dinner for China. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Hold your emails, protocol nerds: Tonight’s White House gala for David Cameron will be called a state dinner — even though, as you like to point out, he is not the U.K. head of state.

Peter Westmacott , Britain’s new ambassador to the U.S., told the Post’s Frances Stead Sellers that the White House is dispensing with the awkward-but-technically-correct “official dinner” nomenclature.

“Cameron’s can’t be a state visit because the monarch, not the prime minister, is head of state,” Sellers wrote. “So the White House, Westmacott explains, has come up with terminology fit for a man who’s not a king: ‘an official visit with a state dinner.’ ”

Got that? It’s not a first: The White House last summer welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for what it called an “official visit” — the German president, not the chancellor, is the head of state, so no ”state visit” — but called the banquet a “state dinner.” Which probably trips off the tongue easier anyway.

In other news, golf superstar Rory McIlroy announced via Twitter that he’ll be attending the state dinner. Damian Lewis, star of “Homeland,” earlier leaked the news that he made the White House guest list.

White House state dinner for Britain: Sweet nothings, across the pond

State dinner menu, performers, more guests

Read earlier: ‘State dinner’ vs. ‘official dinner,’ 3/11/12

By  |  11:15 AM ET, 03/14/2012

Categories:  White House State Dinner

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