Rosalind Campion portrait

Rosalind Campion

Counsellor for Global Issues

Part of UK in USA

19th March 2012 Washington DC, USA

The essential relationship — faster, higher, stronger

It was pretty much impossible to look at a newspaper, news programme, tweet or blog last week without being met by numerous photographs of David Cameron and Barack Obama sharing a joke, or their quotes about the essential relationship shared by the US and UK.

They even wrote a piece together for the Washington Post. The Prime Minister’s visit to the US was a real highlight for Washington DC this month…but all this intensive media coverage has rather foiled me in my plan to blog about it.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron

And so, I will tell you instead about the lunch that I hosted at the Deputy Head of Mission’s house, half way through the PM’s visit.

By this point, the PM had watched a basketball match, the President had just told an intimate audience of 7000 on the White House lawn in the blazing sunshine that he was “chuffed” to have the PM visiting.

Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron had also hosted a mini Olympic event with school children and Olympians at American University to celebrate London 2012 and the First Lady’s recently announced honour of leading the US delegation at the opening ceremony.

As the PM headed off for lunch at the State Department, I welcomed some of the great and the good who span different aspects of the relationship between the US and the UK to my boss’s house.

I was excited to find myself sitting right next to Olympian legend Harrison Dillard who won two gold medals at the London 1948 Olympics for the 100 metres and the 4x 100 metre relay then went on to win two more at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki for 110 metre hurdles and 4x 100 metre relay.

I had first become conscious of the romance and excitement of the Olympics when I saw the British film Chariots of Fire when I was a little girl. Until then, my lack of finesse on the school sports pitch had perhaps contributed to my feeling that the Olympics were somewhat remote, and didn’t really feature in my life.

But Chariots of Fire, which was partly filmed on Broadstairs beach, just a few minutes from the house where I spent my teenage years, inspired in me a sense of awe at the endeavour and commitment, and I started to dream of being in the Olympics.I started running along the same beach, pretending I was one of these Olympic gods. After I had come last in the school 100m race for the third time in a row, I recognised the sorry truth that this probably wasn’t going to happen…

But the thrill and romance of the Olympics has stayed with me, so when I found myself sitting right next to an actual Olympian, I realised I was uncertain of the proprieties of such an occasion.

Would it be too sycophantic to ask him to describe every moment of his experiences in technicolour detail?

Undoubtedly this was not going to be the first time he has been asked that question over the years…but I couldn’t resist. And so I took the plunge and Mr Dillard kept the table spellbound. All of us – from the war hero of Afghanistan to the new Marshall scholar were starstruck. And I was exceptionally “chuffed” to be hosting the lunch.

About Rosalind Campion

Rosalind Campion was appointed Counsellor for Global Issues at the British Embassy in Washington DC in 2011. Her team works on policy issues including trade, business, energy, the environment, science,…

Rosalind Campion was appointed Counsellor for Global Issues at the British Embassy in Washington DC in 2011. Her team works on policy issues including trade, business, energy, the environment, science, innovation and transport.

Originally a corporate lawyer working in London on intellectual property issues, Roz was most recently with the Ministry of Justice, where she set up and ran the Sentencing Council, the national organisation responsible for ensuring a consistent approach to criminal sentencing by the UK’s judiciary.

She has previous experience working on foreign policy issues, including during her time at the Ministry of Justice, as well as through her work with the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and as a lawyer working on international law cases for a top human rights litigation firm.

During her time in academia, Roz was responsible for the public international law programme at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, where she specialised in international trade and environment law.

She lives in Georgetown with her partner, Dr Layla McCay.

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