My how times have changed. Back in 1775, the Brits decided to pay a visit to the Lexington and Concord area. This alarmed the colonists who were warned by Paul Revere “The British are coming!” Revere’s words were a call to arms. Fast forward to 2019. The U.S. President and First Lady traveled to Britain. They weren’t invading; they were invited. The Queen wasn’t alarmed the Americans were coming; she rolled out the red carpet for them.
The top story in the news the past few days has been President Trump’s state visit to England. A state visit means that the Queen extended an invitation for the president to travel across the pond to spend some quality social time with her. President Trump is only the third U.S. president to be honored by a state visit with the queen who, at 93, has seen a number of U.S. presidents enter and leave that high office. President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama are the only other U.S. presidents to have been treated to a state visit.
President Trump’s trip was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day. However, the invitation for a state visit was extended to him quite awhile back. It was made just after he assumed the presidency back in 2017.
The president’s visit was mostly ceremonial. With no hard news to cover, the media had a field day with fluff. Even while on maternity leave, Meghan a/k/a the Duchess of Sussex took front and center. Would her husband give the Donald the cold shoulder for (GASP!) saying that Meghan was “nasty?”
Fortunately for Meghan (but not the news media), she had a PC reason not to come face to face with President Trump; she has baby Archie to care for these days. Harry, however, had royal duties to attend to and was present at a function with the U.S. president. Per an interview with the British press, Trump revealed that he and Harry had not discussed the “nasty” business. What a shame! Imagine how fun a rumble at a royal event could have been. Personally, I think the whole thing should’ve been called a draw. Meghan said Trump was a “misogynist” during the 2016 presidential campaign, and he said that was “nasty” for her to do that. Moving on….
An uproar ensued when the media reported that President Trump had breached royal protocol by touching the Queen. As any protocol expert can attest, you don’t touch a monarch unless she initiates contact. Aha! Meghan can now say that Trump is a misogynist and ignorant about royal protocol. In any event, the Queen was not visibly annoyed by the contact. If she were annoyed, Trump might have found himself hauled off to the Tower of London for a possible beheading. But since the touchee, i.e., the Queen, wasn’t perturbed, what’s it to the media? Oh yeah, a news story.
At least President Trump is in good company as being deficient in knowledge of royal protocol. Michelle Obama laid a hand on the Queen way back in 2009 and lived to tell about it. Actually, she lived to write about it as the incident is discussed in the former first lady’s recently released book.
Good grief! Name calling. Inappropriate touching. What next? It was “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” The state dinner at Buckingham Palace was a white tie affair attended by 170 guests. Excluded from the guest list was London mayor Sadiq Kahn with whom President Trump has been openly feuding. The mayor thinks that the U.S. president is ill-informed about Islam, and President Trump has questioned the mayor’s IQ. Savvy planning to keep those two apart. Of course the mayor announced that he wouldn’t have come even if he’d been invited.
Although Prince Harry had attended a luncheon at the palace with the Trumps, he skipped the state dinner. Snub to President Trump or simply a gushing new dad who prefers to be home with his wife and newborn after a hard day’s work at being a royal? Prince William and Kate did show, the latter wearing her favorite Lover’s Knot tiara. Perhaps the future king and his spouse are aware that the job of a monarch entails dealing with heads of other countries regardless of your personal opinion of them.
The American guests also provided fodder for the news media. Four of President Trump’s children were in attendance with him–Ivanka (accompanied by husband Jared Kushner), Don, Jr., Eric, and Tiffany. While Ivanka and Jared are advisers to the president, what were the other kiddos doing there, the media wondered. Seriously? The Queen invites you to a fancy dinner with her kids in attendance, but you can’t bring yours? And who wouldn’t want to attend a state dinner at Buckingham Palace where you could meet the queen? If the Queen didn’t want the President’s family members there, I am sure she could’ve gotten the message across politely. I mean she had two years to plan the event.
Even the menu, approved by the Queen herself, provided the press with food for thought. (Pun intended.) The entree, new season Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, didn’t raise concerns, but the dessert did. Guests were served strawberry sable’ with lemon verbena cream. Aha! The media were quick to point out that President Trump was enamored of chocolate cake. Perhaps there was a message in that by the Queen not serving him some. Geez! Maybe the Queen just likes strawberries and, well, she’s the Queen so she gets what she wants.
Why couldn’t the media have used the dessert as a teaching moment? I confess. I had no idea what sable’ is. Just in case anyone else is as clueless as I was, a sable’ is a sweet shortbread that’s buttery and noticeably salty. Yummy! Who knows? Donald may now have a new favorite dessert. At the very least, he wasn’t eating fast food–a notorious favorite of his..
The whole point of the state visit was to demonstrate the “special relationship” between our two countries. If the goal is to promote and celebrate that closeness, isn’t focusing on petty things like who said what about whom, who didn’t want to talk to whom, and who doesn’t want to socialize with whom counterproductive? Isn’t it more beneficial for both countries to accentuate the positive? Trump wanted his family members with him for this historic and special event. Harry wanted to spend time with the new addition to his family. The British eat things other than fish’n chips. Come on, mainstream media. Leave the “nasty” focus to the tabloids.
Just WONDER-ing: How closely have you been following President Trump’s state visit to England? Would you jump at the chance to attend a state dinner at Buckingham Palace? Why or why not?