Condoleezza Rice plays piano for Queen at palace

LONDON (Reuters) - Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice played the piano for Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace Monday as a farewell gesture before the end of the Bush administration’s term next month.

Rice’s spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday the top U.S. diplomat played Brahms and was accompanied on violin by Louise Miliband, the wife of Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband, along with three London Symphony Orchestra members.

An accomplished pianist who ultimately chose foreign policy instead of becoming a professional musician, Rice has made several public music performances as the top U.S. diplomat.

McCormack said the royal recital was in a music room at the palace and the Queen had presented a recording of the performance to Rice afterwards. The musicians practiced for an hour beforehand, he added.

“It was all organized by the British and just a very nice gesture as a farewell gift,” McCormack said.

Rice is in London on what is expected to be her final British visit before President-elect Barack Obama takes office on January 20, 2009. Rice will be replaced by former first lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

Rice moves on to Brussels Tuesday for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers and is then set to fly to New Delhi for meetings with Indian officials after last week’s attacks in Mumbai.

Reporting by Sue Pleming; editing by Myra MacDonald