Rove reflects on Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, recounts memorable Bush visit to Buckingham

By | September 9, 2022

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II Thursday at 96, several U.S. officials and former officials offered their condolences and personal experiences with the late monarch, including George W. Bush administration deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.

Rove recalled his Buckingham Palace stay in 2003, and how the monarch was one of the most gracious hosts, adding that she was a symbol of Western values and decency.

“[These] values that are at the heart of Britain and at the heart of the United States. She was a wonderful hostess,” he said, adding that he had a plum overnight room in the palace on the 2003 junket.

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Rove recounted the story of the Bush delegation’s departure, when he was about to encounter an embarrassing clothing issue but was saved at the last moment by the queen herself.

Rove had been, like the rest of the delegation, packing up to send his luggage with the departure valets before taking part in the formal sendoff ceremony.

As he explained, each person from the American administration was to step up to the queen, offer courteous remarks and a gift, and then be on their way.

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Rove said he realized a sock was missing from his departure day wardrobe, and scrambled to find another American delegate with spare socks, but most had already sent their bags to the valet.

“I did, however, participate in creating — almost creating — an international dispute between the United States and Great Britain by an unintentional faux pas,” he said of the moment.

“You’re going to walk across to a short stage then you will say the following words to the queen and her consort. She will offer you a gift, a memento, you say, “Thank you, ma’am,” and then walk on by and remember there are a hundred cameras and don’t make a scene.”

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He informed a British military aide, Maj. Duckworth-Chad, of his issue, but the officer had only white socks that didn’t match Rove’s outfit.

“We had about 10 minutes to go before the departure ceremony. I thought about not going to the ceremony and Maj. Duckworth-Chad said, ‘You’ve got to go. You’ve got to go.'”

At that moment, he recounted, royal valets appeared with a clutch bag positioned atop a tray.

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“And one of them said, ‘On behalf of Her Majesty the Queen and the Commonwealth, it is our privilege to prepare you with a pair of the royal socks.’ And then underneath the clutch was a pair of socks. And five minutes later, I’m walking out of Buckingham Palace, you know, ‘Thank you, queen.’ Wonderful socks.”

“This was a remarkable person. And if you were merely in her presence, you understood the serenity, the power, the love of her country, the love of the special relationship that Great Britain has with the United States.”