LONDON — President Trump’s planned meeting with the Queen has the potential to be very, very awkward:
- Trump once tried to date Princess Diana (Prince Charles’ ex-wife and the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry) but his habit of repeatedly sending her unrequested flowers made Diana “feel as if Trump was stalking her.”
- Trump once tweeted that Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton (Prince William’s wife) had “only herself to blame” for being photographed while sunbathing nude at a secluded house in France by paparazzi hiding on a wooded road 800 metres away.
- Prince Charles might confront Trump about the damage Trump’s temporary ban on immigrants from majority Muslim countries has done to inter-faith relations, one of Charles’ pet topics.
- And then there is the worry that Trump might touch the Queen or try to hold her hand, the way he did with Prime Minister Theresa May. It is a huge breach of etiquette for a civilian to touch the Queen.
No date has yet been set for the official visit later this year, which would include a formal State Dinner at Buckingham Palace. Foreign Office officials are said to be nervous about the visit because Queen Elizabeth II dislikes political controversy. Official presidential visits to the UK normally take place a year or more into a president’s term of office, when the US leader is going through a relatively quiet period.
Right now, Trump is toxic in Britain. His alliance with the outspoken nationalist Nigel Farage and the anti-EU UKIP movement is stronger than his formal relationship with Conservative Prime Minister May. Last night thousands marched on the streets of London to demand that Trump end his temporary ban on immigrants from certain countries with mostly Muslim populations. The ban has affected several British people, including the athlete Mo Farah.
Prince Charles does not shy away from religious debates, however. You can compare Charles’ attitude to Trump’s by looking at their statements commemorating the Holocaust. Trump’s is only three paragraphs long and does not mention the Jews. By contrast, Charles is the official patron of the World Jewish Relief charity, and he said, “the horrific lessons of the last War seem to be in increasing danger of being forgotten.” Charles would likely relish the chance of bending Trump’s ear on the topic.
Trump has a history of uncouth remarks about the Royal women. In 2012, he tweeted:
That came after Trump’s unrequited pursuit of Diana in the late 1990s after she split with Charles. The Sunday Times described an article by Selina Scott, who knew Diana:
“He bombarded Diana at Kensington Palace with massive bouquets of flowers, each worth hundreds of pounds,” Scott reveals today.
“Trump clearly saw Diana as the ultimate trophy wife,” she writes in News Review.
“As the roses and orchids piled up at her apartment she became increasingly concerned about what she should do. It had begun to feel as if Trump was stalking her.”
Scott says Diana confided in her over dinner. “‘What am I going to do?’ she asked. ‘He gives me the creeps.’ ‘Just throw them in the bin,’ I advised. Diana laughed.”
And then there were Trump’s remarks on Howard Stern’s radio show. The DJ once asked him about Diana, “You could’ve gotten her, right? You could’ve nailed her?” And he replied, “I think I could have.”
He also called her “crazy.”
Lastly, there is the matter of etiquette. People who meet the Queen may shake her hand but otherwise are encouraged to never touch her. Trump has already briefly held Theresa May’s hand — causing controversy in the UK. He has a history of grabbing women without asking permission. So any extraneous touching of Her Majesty by Trump will create a publicity nightmare for the Queen and the prime minister.
But apart from that it should all go just fine.
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