Rosie DiManno: Thinking of the Queen and England, when Trump comes for tea …
We are not amused. We would probably roll our baby blues. Were we not so refined and well-mannered.
Queen Elizabeth II was scheduled to have Donald and Melania Trump over for a cuppa — her crown blend of Darjeeling and Assam tea.
A Friday-the-13th, private tete-a-tete-a-tete at Windsor Castle.
The poor woman is 92 years old and still she must do her duty, which sometimes includes breaking the scones with dignitaries, even if the dignitary is monumentally undignified.
A boor and his missus, come calling.
A yahoo who is not known to have ever sipped tea in his life. Nor alcohol. Nor coffee, he claimed in his 2000 book The America We Deserve.
Donald Trump would doubtless prefer gulping a diet Coke. Consumes a dozen of those per day.
But he’ll likely swallow and lump it — please Lord, not the signature smirk — when the sovereign passes ’round the steeped brew in delicate Royal Crown Derby bone china, with napkins bearing the monogram EIIR (Elizabeth II Regina).
An “informal” ritual, as these royal things go. Trump is the 12th president the Queen has thus hosted, three of whom have joined her for a spot of tea at Windsor, rather than Buckingham Palace.
Ronald Reagan accompanied her for a horse-back trot around the grounds. And the Obamas were given a tour of the royal apartments, the Queen roping in William, Harry and Kate, even a baby Prince George, for the cordial occasion.
The Trumps will get precisely 45 minutes, according to the itinerary released, following a royal salute by the Coldstream honour guard. And the playing of the U.S. national anthem, of course, and hopefully this time the president won’t struggle with the lyrics as he appeared to do earlier this year at a college football game.
“As long as he doesn’t pour his cup of tea into his saucer and start slurping, he will be okay,” assures royal biographer Andrew Morton, who most recently published Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. “He is not the first tyrant or political maverick to get the royal-afternoon-tea treatment. After all, the Queen hosted Romanian President Ceausescu on a State visit where he stayed at Buckingham Palace. Several years later he and his wife were shot dead by their own people, who revolted against his repressive regime.”
Her Majesty has also sat down for tea with the despotic Robert Mugabe, before Zimbabwe was kicked out of the Commonwealth over human rights abuses.
No opulent state dinner for Trump, however.
Prime Minister Theresa May unwisely extended that invitation right after Trump won the White House, but has had to walk it back, such was the public’s outrage, with more than 1.8 signatures affixed to a petition demanding Trump be sent to Coventry, instead.
So, during the four-day “working visit” — technically it’s not an “official visit” — Trump gets a black-tie dinner, hosted by May, at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill, who was passionate about the “special relationship” between the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
May might even be regretting that slice of hospitality right now, given Trump predictably galumphing into the Brexit furor that threatens to tear apart the ruling Conservative party. May is straining to prevent a cabinet exodus since Foreign Minister Boris Johnson quit on Monday, accusing May of killing “the Brexit dream” by raising “white flags” of surrender in divorce negotiations with the European Union. “I like Boris,” Trump said this week. “I’ve always liked him.”
In his freewheeling press conference at the NATO leaders summit in Brussels, the Great Disruptor, not for the first time, waded into the Brexit botheration, repeatedly suggesting May hasn’t delivered what the people had voted for in the 2016 referendum. “I would say Brexit is Brexit. The people voted to break it up, so I imagine that is what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route. I’m not sure that’s what they voted for.”
Of course, the Queen, a constitutional monarch, can’t talk politics, except in her weekly meetings with the prime minister. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine what the Queen would chat about with Trump, but she’s certainly perfected the art of meaningless conversation across 66 years on the throne.
Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, U.S. ambassador to the U.K., said it would have been unthinkable not to have the Trumps pop by for a cheerio. “He has to call on the head of state. Putting his foot on British soil, it’s job one. It’s very important, very symbolic.”
There are no plans for including Trump’s American compatriot and newbie royal, Meghan, Mrs. Harry, to join the tea affair at Windsor, which is a bit odd. But the former actress’ dad, Thomas Markle, had something to say about that, not yet receiving an invitation to rub royal elbows himself.
“If the Queen is willing to meet our arrogant, ignorant and insensitive president, she has no excuse not to meet me,” he told TMZ. “I’m nowhere near as bad.”
Oh, these in-law squabbles.
“His arrival puts the newly-minted Duchess of Sussex in a spot,” Morton told the Star. “During the election campaign, she threatened to move to Canada if Trump was elected.’’
Trump won’t be doing much walkabout during his London-area sojourn, part and parcel of keeping him away from protesters, certainly out of sight of the huge “Trump Baby” balloon floating above near Westminster. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has wrangled with Trump on twitter over the president’s travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries, approved the dirigible.
The only other commander-in-chief gig on Trump’s agenda is attendance at an (undisclosed) defence site, connected to U.S. and U.K. military training, before he sits down for a working nosh (lunch) at Chequers, the PM’s country residence, a safe 65-kilometre distant from the capital.
Then it’s off to Scotland for a couple of days golfing. Demonstrations are planned at two golf courses Trump owns there.
But at least he’ll be out of the Queen’s finger-permed snow white hair.
Quite the drama queen, himself.