Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will jointly address parliamentarians in Westminster today.
Neither Chamber is large enough to hold sufficient Parliamentarians - so joint addresses are usually given either in Westminster Hall (the oldest part of the Palace - which survived the Great Fire of 1834 and the bombing of the House of Commons in 1941) or the Royal Gallery. The latter venue is to be used today.
The Royal Gallery is a magnificant room. It is 110 feet long; 45 feet wide and 45 feet high. There is one minor problem. The room is dominated by two large paintings - The 'Death of Nelson at Trafalgar' and the 'Meeting of Wellington and Bucher at Waterloo', both by Daniel Maclise. These two battles were great victories over the French. Hooks have now been installed to allow curtains to be hung to cover the paintings if a French President is giving an address. When Giscard D'Estang saw the paintings he reputedly remarked "C'est manifique, mais ce n'est pas diplomatique"
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