Just grimace and bear it
The real reason behind Trump’s UK visit
Hope of a post-Brexit trade deal is behind Trump’s painfully choreographed visit to the queen
There is a wonderful moment in The Crown, the excellent drama about Queen Elizabeth, when the queen and her mother are watching from a window of Buckingham Palace as guests arrive for the first garden party in which the queen gets to meet her subjects.
"Who do you suppose that is?" asks the queen, her eyes widening.
"That," says the queen mother with a quivering mouth, "is Harry the Hammer, a boxer from the Old Kent Road."
Letting the commoners into the palace — a deliberate move to humanise the image of the queen among her people — reached its apogee this week during US President Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain.
Trump, who as leader of the free world has achieved the highest office on earth apparently without being encumbered by such shortcomings as good manners or restraint, started the visit with a Twitter tirade.
He called London mayor Sadiq Khan a "stone cold loser", before thudding off over London aboard his personal chopper to meet the queen.
Along with an awkward half-handshake, the queen gave Trump a first edition of Winston Churchill’s book The Second World War, a fitting present as both countries celebrate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6.
The whole point of this painfully choreographed visit in which both royals and visitors grimace for the cameras seems to be the hope of a trade deal after Brexit, a time Trump has alluded to as "once the shackles are off".
Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May also presented Trump with a Churchill document at her stage-managed meeting with him. In her case it was a signed copy of the Atlantic Charter, the pledge for close postwar co-operation between the two nations.
Are the Churchill-inspired gifts a comment on Trump’s leadership? Or are they indications of nostalgia for the last great prime minister the UK had?