Degrees of separation between you and a head of state?

Inspired by Shrinking Violet’s revelation in regards to HM Queen Elizabeth

I wondered how many Dopers can boast a connection, however tenuous, to a current or former head of state.

For purposes of this thread, let’s not count public appearances by a HOS or future HOS in which you were a member of the audience.

But nearly any other interaction is fair game.

My own is on the tenuous side. I met and interviewed Chip Carter, son of then-candidate Jimmy Carter, when he stopped at our small Oregon town. His best line, on seeing a big bowl of peanuts in the local campaign headquarters. “My father told me every time I saw one of those to make sure to spill a bunch on the floor.” … presumably so they’d have to buy more peanuts.

Does a former head of state count?

Because one of my favorite professors from college was a close friend of Dr. Sergei Khchruschev, son of Nikita.

Are you allowed to connect to a head of state via a political colleague? Because then I can claim to be connected to a former Indian Prime Minister via my uncle, whose brother was a cabinet minister in the government of said HoS.

I have a suspicion quite a lot of people would be able to find a connection like this.

I threw a soggy tomato at the (then) Prime Minister of Australia (Malcolm Fraser) at a demo in the 1970’s.

There was zero degree of separation once the tomato thwacked him on the side of the head.

Does that count???


The answers are yes and yes. My goof, I intended to include former heads of state. And any connection that doesn’t involve simply being an audience member is fair game. After all, the original “Six Degrees of Separation” can take you through all sorts of routes. So go for it.

(As a subset, though, it would be interesting to hear of any one-on-one experiences. I suspect we have more than a few on board here)

Let’s see -

American politicians:

My dad went to college with George W. Bush, although they didn’t really hang out in the same circles.

My wife once bumped into Bill Clinton in the service elevator of the Russian Tea Room.


I’ve met several U.S. ambassadors to Israel, who must have met various Israeli and Palestinian high-ups, including Yasser Arafat. These guys were all professional diplomats, so I assume they’ve met various other heads of state as well.

My father-in-law once sat in on a military staff meeting with Yitzhak Rabin; 17 years later, my wife met him when she was awarded a military citation. My FIL also used to live across the street from Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, who would later be Ariel Sharon’s first Defense Minister, and I met him a couple of times.

kambuckta, that gets you half-credit (and the admiration of anarchists everywhere). Now, if he’d tossed one back and hit you, THAT would have been serious interaction.

Dad was on the local library board with Mrs. Walter Reuther who, of course, knew Mr. Walter Reuther, who knew several of the presidents (certainly Kennedy and Johnson, less certainly Eisenhower and Nixon).

I work for a big famous multinational. I’ve met the CEO, and the CEO regularly meets with many heads of State. I have also met the CEO of other Multinationals, who also meet with heads of State. Being that these CEO’s are visiting China, often with their Head of State, who then meet the Chinese Head of State.

Who you ask? Hu Jintao (I slay me).

So what is that, 2 degrees of seperation?

Now, I do not claim to know these CEO’s, only to have met them or at best taken part in a group event.

On the other hand, the head of my company in China has met with Premier Hu Jintao multiple times. I can say that the head of my company in China would actually know who I am if you ask him directly.

Sorry, but no real names.

This is pretty tenuous, but I think it’s interesting. My ex is a direct descendant of one Francis Tresham. Tresham was one on the conspirators in the Guy Fawkes plot to blow up the House of Lords in 1604, thereby killing James I and most of the members of Parliment. His indiscretion also seems to be responsible for the failure of the plot.
I’ve seen the family tree, so I’m fairly certain that this isn’t just a wild story.
I might add that my ex seemed to have inheireted her ancesters traits of violent behavior and vengence.

I’ve had David Frum, (one of George W. Bush’s speechwriters,) Mark Katz, (one of Bill Clinton’s speechwriters,) Richard Clarke, (former Bush, Clinton, Bush and Reagan counter-terrorism advisor,) Dana Priest, (National Security reporter for the Washington Post,) and several other political writers in my car when I was working as an author escort. I figure each of these people should count to give me one degree from several heads of state.

When I was working at a bookstore I worked at signings with Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Robert Macnamara, Colin Powell, and Helen Thomas. These were booksignings open to the public, which was nixed by the OP, but since I was working at the signings, rather than just a member of the audience, I am hoping for an exception to give me a 0 degree rating.

Oh, and I just remembered an unusual head of state I am 1 degree from, the King of Sweden. I have driven two Nobel prize winners, James Watson (Medicine, 1962) and Joseph Stiglitz (Economics, 2001). Again, when I was working as an author escort.

Unless, of course, I got the degree of seperation concept wrong, in which case I think it might be 2 degrees for having the people in my car and 1 degree if the signings count.

Does it count if they weren’t they just weren’t a head of state yet?

My grandfather worked under Bush the Elder at the CIA, not directly but I know they had lunch at some point. I might have met a later Director when I was young, but I’m not sure. Also my grandad might be connected through Tom Clancy (he was one step there) to other heads of state, at least through the generals Clancy knows, but I’m not going to go further on that. I have a couple Clancy books signed out to me.

Besides that, my dad worked in a technical capacity for a news network which put him about two steps from a big talking head, about three from many public figures during the relevant era. Hell, I shook hands with Peter Jennings up in the canteen once.

Another relative got Jesse Jackson to speak at my elementary school, so that puts me 3 steps from Clinton and probably others.

I took a few lessons from a bassist whose jazz band once played at the White House under Clinton; I think they were introduced. I think that’s the last I’ve got for now.

I’ve shaken hands with Rosalyn Carter (though I’m not sure I’m spelling her name right.) She was giving a speech at a Women’s Club, I was the treasurer.

For my work for the Dutch (Limburg) Provincial Government I often interact with the provincial department CEO, who interacts with the Limburg Governor, who often interacts with the Queen.

Last week, I exchanged a few words with a newly chosen member of parliament (I was at the election party, as reward for my help in the campaign) who is bound to have some interaction with our Minister President and the Queen.

My mum used to work with Senator Kay Patterson when she wasn’t yet a Senator. I used to spend quite a lot of time over the holidays at my parents’ work, so I got to know many of their colleagues (including Senator Patterson) quite well, for a primary school kid.

I presume she’s met the PM a couple of times. So that’s two degrees for me.

I’ve met the Duke of Edinburgh (very briefly) who, of course, is the husband of Queen Liz.

Spoke to Helen Clark just after a public meeting before she was elected as Prime Minister, and for a number of years received a Christmas card from her office as PM. I’m not in her electorate anymore, so what connection thee might have been would be more faded, now.

Route #1: Two degrees.
I have had dinner with Ed Broadbent, prominent Canadian politician (my mother worked with him back in the seventies and eighties, and we were on holiday visiting Ottawa one summer). Ed Broadbent in turn has met all sorts of people: Prime Ministers, Presidents, royalty… now the interesting question is, who had Mr Broadbent met when I met him?

Route #2: Two degrees.
My grandfather met the Queen way back in the fifties.

Route #3: Four degrees, possibly three.
I have met our own *matt_mcl. I am sure that matt has met Jack Layton at least once. As leader of the federal NDP, I am sure that Mr. Layton has met the PM. And of course, the PM has met all sorts of interesting people as well.

My grandfather received his OBE from Her Majesty.

Also, my wife once shook hands with Bill Clinton.

I myself have stood next to the Irish taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, on two occasions in two different pubs. The first I was very stoned and giggling to myself about how illegal I was being, next to the prime minister, and the second time one of his bodyguards threatened to shoot me for inadvertantly stealing his newspaper.

I was employed by a transport company with a branch in Birmingham.

In a radio interview, Princess Anne had once expressed a wish to drive a heavy goods vehicle (apparently her second career preference after being a Royal) and the company had invited her to the site in order to help her fulfill her dream. My office was divorced from the main building and it had its own toilet.

Prior to Anne’s visit the company demolished the toilet and spent £6k building a new one in case she wished to relieve herself while she was there. This toilet was placed out of bounds to me so that the princess, should she desire its use, would be the first person to pull the chain, so to speak.

I was temporarily relocated prior to and during her driving lesson but, on the day before she arrived, I went back to examine the newly built facility. While I was there I felt duty bound to to check out the functionality of of the toilet to ensure that everything was in full working order which, happily, it was.

Whether the princess actually used the new toilet is not recorded by posterity. Although there was no visible evidence that she had used it I like to think that she did and, if so, I can justifiably claim to have tested a Royal Lavatory before its use by a Royal Bottom.

Tenuous I know but I hope this qualifies.