In 1970, President Richard Nixon changed the White House Secret Service’s uniforms most dramatically.

According to Richard Reeves’ President Nixon:  Alone in the White House, Nixon felt that the present uniforms were “too slovenly.”  An upcoming visit by Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Great Britain  was a good excuse to upgrade the uniforms.

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.

What I find most striking is that one of the Secret Service guards, the one closest to the camera, is a dead-ringer for Elvis Presley.  After all, Elvis did make that infamous nearly-unannounced trip to visit Nixon.

But the two dates are far apart.  Prime Minister Wilson visited on January 29, 1970.  Elvis visited on December 21, 1970.


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