Twist! It is now being reported that US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK, originally planned for June, has been delayed to October. According to The Sun, Trump relayed to Prime Minister Theresa May two weeks ago concerns that the trip would end up mired in protests and snubs from Members of Parliament, while an autumn date would also make it more likely that the visit would be to Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
As of right now, the tentative dates are October 5-8, though that may be changed once again in the interim.
A “senior government source” on the UK side is quoted as saying:
“Trump still really wants to come this year, but he wants the heat to die down a bit first. The White House watch what happens over here surprisingly closely, and they don’t want to create a scene for our sake either.”
It the trip does go ahead at Balmoral, it will mark the second ever visit there from a US president, the first being Dwight Eisenhower in 1959.
Another sight on Trump’s bucket list is apparently Churchill’s war rooms in London, for which he has requested Boris Johnson as a guide.
This news come one week after the House of Commons debated downgrading Trump’s visit from an official state visit during which he will, as a matter of course, meet and be hosted by the Queen.The debate was prompted by a petition signed by 1.8 million Britons arguing that such an event would offend the Queen’s “dignity” due to the President’s “misogyny and vulgarity.”
However, if this report is true then it would mean Trump and May had already discussed postponing the trip before the Parliamentary debate took place.
Another aspect of the postponement and possible Scottish location is that it would make it far easier, and indeed likelier, that the Prince of Wales and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be able to sidestep meeting the President, which would allow all parties to avoid the inevitable headlines. As a reminder, the Prince of Wales has made multiple statements the press has interpreted as veiled shots at Trump on the topics of climate change and his administration’s stance towards immigrants and Muslims, while tweets Trump posted in 2012 blamed the Duchess for topless photos taken of her with a long lens camera when she was holidaying at a private residence in France.
So, what does this mean? Well, a postponement is probably for the best and I’m strongly in favor of Trump going to Balmoral and not London. While the historical significance and perceived coziness of the Scottish estate may be irritating to the President’s opponents, I think forgoing the optics of Trump in the far more recognizable opulence of Buckingham Palace will help separate this out from prior state visits.