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Nixon’s Praetorian Guard

[L]et’s go back in time to January 1970, when President Richard Nixon was preparing for a visit from Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Nixon, who thought his White House uniform guards looked “slovenly,” had them outfitted in new uniforms, based on the honor guards he had seen, and been impressed by, in Europe.

My husband, upon seeing this, immediately said “Oh my God, those look like marching band uniforms!” You can kind of picture them sticking a flute in those holsters, can’t you? If an enemy charged the White House, they could quick-draw and start fifing away. “Give ‘em the old Yankee Doodle Dandy, boys!”

The public reaction to the new uniforms was not good.
. . .
In 1980, the barely-used uniforms were repurposed as . . . yes, you guessed it, the uniforms for the Southern Utah State marching band.

Richard Nixon’s Palace Guard

Nixon's Praetorian Guard

Richard Nixon was a veal Oscar kind of guy. I mean the imperial presidency, Watergate and all that. But mostly it was the way over the top, gaudy and ridiculously ostentatious garb he foisted on the Whitehouse uniformed security staff that tipped his hand.

Like Nixon’s uniforms, veal Oscar is kind of over the top. It is a plate of breaded veal cutlets, first topped with asparagus then crab meat and finally all is sauced with an egg yolk-butter based hollandaise or béarnaise sauce.

It’s all a little much, pretentiously combining a number of plain and simple things and doing justice to none. It’s a pompous meal first cooked up to suit the fancy of Sweden’s King Oscar II. It more reflects imperial fiat rather than culinary art.

54 MPG & Veal Oscar for Nixon

Nixon and Elvis, December 21, 1970

Nixon and Elvis, December 21, 1970

The uniforms, inspired by ones that Nixon had seen on honor guards in Europe, featured “double-breasted white tunics, starred epaulets, gold piping, draped braid, and high plastic hats decorated with a large White House crest.”

The uniforms were roundly criticized in the press. One columnist said that they looked like old-time movie ushers’ uniforms. Another noted that the uniforms borrowed their style from “decadent European monarchies.”

They lasted 2 weeks.

Decadent Monacracy: White House Secret Service Uniforms During Nixon’s Administration

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