Americans first met Elizabeth Alexandria Mary Windsor as a small child of 3 on the cover of Time magazine. She peered into the camera with a sense of duty that would define her life, all curls and adorable pudgy arms. She was actually known as Princess Elizabeth of York, but she went by “Lilibet” because no one could say her name.
At the age of 10, “Lilibet” became the heir apparent when her father, King George VI, became king after her uncle, King Edward VIII, provoked a constitutional crisis by abdicating in 1936 to marry a twice-divorced American woman.
In 1951, as a princess, she made her first official trip to the United States. Due to her father’s illness, Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh embarked on a six-week cross-Canada tour as representatives of the British monarchy, including a last-minute stopover in Washington, DC. President Harry Truman remarked to the press, “When I was a little child, I read about a fairy princess, and there she is.”
Two years later, she was crowned Queen of England.
For the next seven decades, Queen Elizabeth II met with every US president besides Lyndon B. Johnson, all in the name of maintaining the “special connection” between the United States and the United Kingdom that had been formed by two great wars.
Undoubtedly the most out-of-the-ordinary were the Queen’s two visits with President Trump, one in 2018 and the other in 2019.
Trump’s political poisoning meant that his first state visit to Britain was reduced to a business visit. Since the Queen would not be hosting a ballroom banquet, there would be little fanfare or ostentation.
In fact, more over 250,000 people protested the president on his visit in 2018, causing Prime Minister Theresa May to relocate her dinner for him to Blenheim Palace, 50 miles outside of London. After other foreign leaders, such as Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, were invited to speak at Parliament, the House of Commons turned down his request.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, permitted demonstrators to fly a big orange balloon depicting Trump as a pouting chubby baby in a diaper holding a cellphone in his tiny hands, which was the most insulting insult of them.
Angry words came from Trump. For the right-wing newspaper The Sun, he vented, “I guess when they send out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no need for me to go to London. I used to adore London as a place… But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay?” He referred to Khan as a “stone cold loser.”
The entire tour of Trump’s appearances was met with organized opposition in the form of protesters. Trump held demonstrators and the 92-year-old queen waiting for 10 to 15 minutes in 80-degree heat at Windsor, where he and the first lady had been invited for tea with the Queen.
The Queen waved him over as he arrived and led the way into the quadrangle to meet the Coldstream Guards. Instead, Trump led the way, with the Queen staring at his rear. Then he halted suddenly, requiring her to veer to the side and go behind him to get alongside him. Many people took to Twitter to comment on the do-si-do, with one user writing, “The Queen acts like she’s teaching one of her dogs as Trump attempts to master the art of walking.”
Prince Philip had retired “due to health,” Prince Charles was “otherwise unavailable,” Prince William was “playing polo,” and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, whom Trump had deemed “nasty” for objecting to his election, were “previously engaged.” The British press noted Her Majesty’s unusual solo appearance.
Queen Elizabeth II made a more understated entrance, sporting a little agate flower pin that Obama had given her.
As he planned his second visit to the UK in 2019, President Trump ordered his team to get for him all the benefits that had been extended to his predecessor, whose lack of international acclaim only served to irritate the world. White House aides said it was “critically vital” for him to spend the night at Buckingham Palace, but Downing Street said he couldn’t because of renovations. The president will “hissy,” as Trump’s staff has been warning.
British ambassador in Washington warned Home Office that the president was “inept” and “incompetent,” that his staff was “uniquely dysfunctional,” and that he was headed for inevitable “disgrace.” When these cables were leaked to the press, Trump demanded the ambassador’s recall. Because of this, Britain’s top diplomat was fired for being honest.
Amnesty International UK supporters erected five banners reading “Resist Sexism,” “Resist Racism,” “Resist Hate,” “Resist Cruelty,” and “Resist Trump” in front of the US Embassy windows in London on the day of Trump’s arrival.
The president’s four children and their wives attended the Queen’s luncheon at Buckingham Palace, which was the highlight of his state visit.