The Queen of England got two George Bushes for the price of one when she arrived at the White House last Tuesday. What she didn't know was that the president's eldest son, George Walker Bush, so unpredictable that the family never knows what he'll say in polite society, was under strict orders from his parents not to address the queen.
Somehow, though, he and the queen got to talking anyway. About boots, the new pair he was wearing, made especially for the occasion. Usually he has them printed with something like "Texas Rangers." Was that on these boots? the queen wanted to know.
"No, ma'am," George replied. "God Save the Queen."
The queen thought that so jolly good that she further fueled their exchange with another question. Was he the black sheep in the family? she inquired.
"I guess so," he admitted.
"All families have them," observed the queen.
"Who's yours?" asked George.
"Don't answer that!" cut in Barbara Bush, appearing from out of nowhere.
And in her queenly manner as she walked away, Elizabeth II did not.
If Chief of Protocol Joseph V. Reed decides to leave that post -- and he said yesterday from Texas that he had no such intention nor knew of none on the part of some significant others -- he can always go into the canning business.
Once a year -- appropriately over the Presidents' Day weekend -- Reed fires up the kettle to concoct jam from oranges grown on his mother's Hobe Sound, Fla., estate. Setting aside about 60 jars, Reed labels his product "Joseph's Preserves," then gives them away throughout the year.
Last week he decided the occasion was special enough at the British Embassy and dispatched a jar to British Ambassador Sir Antony Acland as a good-luck token. Acland sent back word that the jam is not just tasty but competitive with any marmalade Britain has to offer.
Next year's label? How about "By Appointment to the Queen"?
Queen Elizabeth told President Bush and his dinner guests last Tuesday night at the White House that rumor has it U.S. presidents can thank Winston Churchill for Blair House. Describing Churchill's 1941 Christmas visit when he was President Roosevelt's house guest for three long weeks, the queen said Churchill liked to work very late into the night or early in the morning. Late one night he asked to see Roosevelt but Eleanor flatly refused. It was probably then and there, according to the queen, that the First Lady decided that future presidential guests would stay off the premises.
Years later, when Elizabeth and Prince Philip were house guests of the Eisenhowers, the queen said she took special care to mind her manners, as did President Eisenhower.
"I may say," said the queen, "that neither the president nor I attempted to disturb the rest of the other."
She's been out and about on the West Coast since publication of Kitty Kelley's unauthorized biography, but this week Nancy Reagan ventures east to pick up some honors for her work against drug abuse. Last night in New York, she and Merck & Co. CEO P. Roy Vagelos shared the Hugh O'Brien Youth Foundation's Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award. Today she joins Helen Hayes for a ribbon cutting at New York's Strang Cancer Prevention Center. On Friday she travels to Havre de Grace, Md., where a treatment center for chemically addicted adolescents will be dedicated and given her name.
Funded with a $250,000 grant from the Nancy Reagan Foundation, the Nancy Reagan Hall for Adolescents is the latest program in the nonprofit treatment center called Father Martin's Ashley. It has worked with more than 4,300 alcoholics and drug addicts and counseled more than 10,000 family members since 1983. Former Reagan aide Michael K. Deaver checked into the center for eight weeks of treatment in 1986.
A spokesman for Father Martin's Ashley said yesterday that arrangements for the former First Lady's appearance predated publication of the Kelley book and that plans to add a facility for adolescents have been in the works since early this year.
By their deeds -- not just their duds -- shall ye know them.
That's the idea behind the $2 million national fund-raising effort to restore and preserve the historic gowns of America's First Ladies and eventually redisplay them in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
But beyond the fashion angle, says Dorene Whitney, who as chairman of the Friends of the First Ladies already has recruited 73 members and raised about $600,000, the new exhibit, scheduled to open in 1992, will focus on "the roles of these women as consorts, helpmates and hostesses.
"First Ladies have notably volunteered their time to promote culture, the arts and historic preservation," says Whitney, who has enlisted the support of all seven living First Ladies. "They have been leaders of social causes and reforms as well as political partners and campaigners, and now their accomplishments will be brought to life in this dynamic exhibit."
Becoming a "Friend" isn't an affiliation one takes lightly (charter membership costs $10,000, although $9,000 is tax deductible). But neither do Whitney and her Smithsonian backup team go lightly on the perks they periodically offer members. This week, for instance, members from around the country are given special tours of the White House, the museum's new First Ladies Hall, the National Gallery of Art, Mount Vernon and the Smithsonian's Conservation Analytic Lab in Suitland. They are also rubbing elbows with big names in Washington's political-cultural-social hierarchy and with Barbara Bush's own fashion guru, Arnold Scaasi, who designed her inaugural ball gown.
Tomorrow, the visitors go to lunch with such First Relatives as Susan Ford Bales, Dorothy Bush LeBlond and Edith Roosevelt. In the evening there's a screening of "Soapdish," with the new film's costume designer, Nolan Miller, of "Dynasty" renown.
On Thursday, at yet another luncheon, members will meet a number of former East Wing aides. From Barbara Bush's staff will be Susan Porter Rose and Julie Cooke. Author Carl Sferazza Anthony provides some history of the East Wing with a talk titled "The Women Behind the Ladies."