Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
"A king cannot be punctual," said a Moroccan official waiting on the White House steps. And his potentate, King Hassan II, proved him correct Tuesday night.
The king was 10 minutes late Tuesday morning for arrival ceremonies on the South Lawn, and he later topped that with a 15-minutes delay in arriving at a state dinner in his honor while the Marine Band played Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor to while away the time.
When the king arrived with his two sons, Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed, 15, and Prince Moulay Rachid, 8, they demonstrated that royalty may come late but it minds its manners. Following the king's example, both of the young princes kissed the hand of First Lady Rosalynn Carter while President Carter settled for a cordial handshake.
Amy Carter, 11, dressed in a pink dress and hair ribbon, had as her dinner partner the younger prince - a decision she made Tuesday afternoon en route to her violin lesson. Cast in the role of chaperone at their table in the State Dining Room was Amy's grandmother, Miss Lillian.
But earlier both the young princes stood with their father and Amy's parents receiving guests in the East Room while Amy killed time in the Grand Foyer. Also in the Grand Foyer was the custodian of the royal fex and cape, a Moroccan functionary who follows the king around bearing cold-weather garments in case the king needs them - even a mild Washington night with the temperature about 60 degrees.
After dining on roast supreme of pheasant with wild rice and artichokes filled with fresh spinach, the president and the king exchanged toasts.
"My mother visited Morocco recently," Carter said. "King Hassan tells me that Morocco has recovered from that visit."
He praised King Hassan's government for supporting the peace initiative of Egypt's Anwar Sadat from the beginning, and said that Morocco exercises a "stabilizing influence in Africa, brought about by strong and capable leadership."
During the meal, Mrs. Carter chatted with some of the Moroccan guests in Spanish, a language she is still learning, and the president recalled an anecdote that tied together the Spanish language and U.S. Moroccan relations.
When Roosevelt and Churchill held their World War II meeting in Casablanca (which means "White House" in Spanish), an intelligence agent for the Nazis learned of the meeting and sent word to Berlin. Fortunately, Carter said, the message was sent in Spanish and the Spanish translator in Berlin mistranslated the name of the city. "Hitler was told that Roosevelt and Churchill were having a meeting in the White House. So, although this building was in danger of being bombed, they were safe in Morocco."
In his response, King Hassan said he wished to toast Carter, "not as the president of the United States but as a new, close and loyal friend of myself and my country."
The king paused occasionally to search for the right word while speaking in English, and at the end, after leading a moment of silent prayer, asked the guests to "Forgive my poor English."
Later, over coffee, Hassan reverted to French when he spoke to reporters. He said he had "tried to be at the same level as your hospitality" by speaking English during the toast.
He shrugged when asked how optimistic he felt about Mideast peace negotiations. "I am not optimistic - I'm realistic. I believe that a river can never flow back to its source." He surprised Carter with a specially translated copy of a 2,100-year-old Chinese text titled "The Dispute over the Salt and Iron Monoply," subtitled "Treatise on the Art of Governing."
Carter quickly looked at it and found the chapter titled, "The Heavens Reward Good Rulers." He assured the king he would read it.
Among the guests were representatives from the administration, private industry and several labor organizations.
While other guests wound up their dinner with chocolate mousse, washing it down with three California wines, Amy and Rachid had ice cream and Coca Cola. After dinner, Miss Lillian escorted them both upstairs so Rachid could meet Amy's cat, Misty Malarkey Yang.
The evening's entertainment was provided by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on a stage set up in the East Room. The stage was relatively small for a dance company, and the large, ornate chandeliers came within 9 feet of the elevated platform. "We spaced around it," Ailey said, looking at one of the chandeliers during an afternoon rehearsal. "We chose carefully what we would do here. We're not doing anything with big jumps."
After the entertainment, the two princes returned to Blair House across the street in a limousine. Mrs. Carter had noticed that they seemed eager to end the evening festivities. "I told Rachid in Spanish that his father would stay here but he could go home. He said, 'When! When!'" she reported.
The king and the president conferred for 50 minutes after the entertainment, and then the president escorted Hassan, still chatting, down the driveway to the Northwest Gate. The king walked past his fleet of limousines to Blair House.
As he was returning to the White House, someone asked President Carter whether the two leaders had solved the world's problems. "Of course," the president answered.
Though the long wait while the president and the king were conferring upstairs, the Marine Band played Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" over and over again. Asked later how many times they had played it, one violinist answered, "I lost track."