Barack Obama honoured with official tartan in Edinburgh
With its predominantly navy blue, white and green weave with red and white through it, the latest tartan unveiled by the Scottish Government's official tartan body, looks like a traditional Scottish clan tartan.
But in fact it is the Obama Family tartan commissioned by the charitable Hunter Foundation to commemorate the first visit by former US president Barack Obama to Scotland in May this year.
Tartan designer Brian Halley of Glasgow-based Slanj Kilts, whose Obama Family tartan was officially registered by the Scottish Register of Tartans in Edinburgh yesterday, said he had been “sworn to secrecy” over the project.
Mr Obama was presented with the kilt and trews in his family tartan when he attended a charity fund-raising dinner in Edinburgh.
The event raised £670,000 for charities taking part in the Kiltwalk campaign including the Maggie’s Centres and Glasgow’s Beatson Clinic.
Mr Halley said he received a surprise email in April from the foundation asking him to design a new tartan and make three kilts and a pair of trews.
“I had to know who it was for to choose meaningful colours for the tartan. I was very honoured indeed to find out it was for Mr Obama. I don’t think you can top that. He’s a very special person. I was sworn to secrecy about the entire project.”
The colours Mr Halley selected for the tartan focus on Mr Obama’s life and family history.
The navy blue represents the flag of Hawaii where the 44th, and first African-American US president was born.
Kenya, where Mr Obama’s father, Barack Obama senior, a senior governmental economist, was born is represented by the green from the country’s flag.
During the presentation of the kilt and trews at the dinner where guests included First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Mr Obama joked: “Unfortunately, I have concluded my legs are too thin to pull it off, but those (tartan) trousers...I think they look pretty good. So I might try some.”
But Mr Halley, who has also designed tartans for Kings of Leon and the WaterAid charity, said: “I’ve been told he loves the kilt
Red, sky blue and white are taken from the flag of Chicago where Mr Obama lives and works.
A spokesman for Sir Tom Hunter, businessman and philanthropist, said: “It was an honour to present President Obama with his own Obama family tartan to mark his first visit to Scotland.”