Did Obama's iPod Gift Make the Cut?

The bestowing of the Royal iPod brought a cringe from one top etiquette expert

What do you get for a woman who has everything—palaces, crown jewels, a nation at her feet? If you’re President Barack Obama, and it’s the Queen of England, a personalized iPod, of course.

The bestowing of the Royal iPod brought a cringe from one top etiquette expert, who said it confirmed that Obama hasn’t figured out presidential gift-giving. Or that they shouldn’t all come from Best Buy — Obama already took some grief for giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a boxed set of DVDs when he visited the White House.

“For me, the iPod only works if he has some catchy reason why he gave it as a gift,” said Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute. “Otherwise it feels like somebody at the White House pulled the lever and an iPod is what popped up. And if it was just pulled out of the blue, you run the risk of the ‘Oh, how nice,’ reaction from people which is the polite gloss of, ‘What on earth am I going to do with this?’ ”

The Obamas recovered a bit in Post’s eyes by also giving the Queen a rare songbook signed by Richard Rodgers. One of the Queen’s favorite musicals is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Post called that gift “the height of thoughtfulness.”

But perhaps surprisingly to folks in the U.S. the Queen is no stranger to the iPod, because she already has one.

Back in 2005, the Queen, at the suggestion of her son, Prince Andrew, decided to join the iPod revolution and bought a 6GB silver model. Royal watchers say Her Royal Highness likes show tunes and easy listening music, but isn’t a fan of rap or pop.

So the new iPod could be an upgrade for the Queen. So far the Ipod gift hasn’t resulted in the kind of “what was he thinking” response in the British press that came with the DVD gift. Also the White House loaded the iPod with video of her visit to the states in 2007.

The story about the gift exchange on the Telegraph newspaper site prompted hundreds of responses—with tons of Americans apologizing for the gift and expressing embarrassment and Brits seeming to take it in stride, with one writing:

“Dear 'Real Americans,'

Thanks for the apologies, but you can keep them. No reasonable person here is insulted by the gifts given to the queen - I imagine it was refreshing for her not to receive another ornamental trinket to sit in the royal garage.”

As for the Queen, she gave the Obamas a signed photo of herself and her husband in a silver frame. But she had it easier than Obama — that’s the same thing she always gives visiting dignitaries.

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