The president’s state visit has left us embarrassed—even horrifiedby Diane Roberts / June 5, 2019 / Leave a comment
I don’t know what the British royal version of a Kremlinologist would be—Windsor-watcher? Gemologist?—but the Trump state visit to the UK has inspired Americans to study the Queen’s choice of tiara, Prince Harry’s body language, Prince Charles’s tight smile, the Duchess of Sussex’s absence from the festivities, and what appeared to be a well-placed wink from the Duchess of Cornwall.
What could it mean for the special relationship? Is there still a special relationship?
When it comes to the British, many Americans still experience a certain amount of cultural cringe: we can’t get over the sneaking suspicion that the British are cooler than we are, and may, in fact, be laughing at us. Despite that—and despite our republican form of government—we’re awfully royalist, even if we tell ourselves that everyone is as good as everyone else.
We don’t really believe it: there’s a reason Victoria and Downtown Abbey are huge hits on American television. The glamorous duchesses Kate and Meghan beam from countless magazine covers stacked at supermarket tills. Princess Diana is still revered as a kind of secular saint, and somehow we’ve decided that the Queen belongs to us, too. That could be why thousands of Americans took to social media to express horror that she had to entertain Trump and his dodgy ménage of unshaven sons and daughters in prom dresses at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen has had to sit next to Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe and Nicolae Ceausescu at dinner, too. Maybe she’s hard to shock. Certainly, she’s proved herself adept at some elegant trolling. She must have been told Trump does not read, yet her official gift to him was a fancy first edition of Winston Churchill’s The Second World War. Abridged. And during her speech, she lauded the way the UK and the US “worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions to ensure that the horror of conflict would never be repeated.”
Even Trump’s Fox News sycophants understood that HM was bigging up Nato there—possibly even the EU. Trump didn’t seem to get it. He was practically purring the whole time he was in London, behaving uncharacteristically well. True, on the way over he insulted Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling him a “stone cold loser.” And when the Sun reminded him that the former Meghan Markle, now married to Prince Harry, once called…