The planned state visit of President Donald Trump to the United Kingdom later this year could put 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth in a “very difficult position,” according to people in royal circles.
In a letter to the Times of London Lord Ricketts, who was the permanent secretary at the Foreign Office (the British equivalent of the State Department) from 2006 to 2010, questioned whether or not Trump is “specially deserving of this exceptional honor?”
Ricketts said there is “no precedent for a U.S. president paying a state visit to this country in their first year. Most have had to wait till their third.” He added, “now the Queen is put in a very difficult position.”
In fact, if recent precedence says anything, former President Barack Obama made his first visit to the U.K. two months into office, but he did not receive the honor of a state visit until he had been in office for 28 months; and President George W. Bush made his first visit to the U.K. after six months, but he did not get a state visit until he had been in the White House for 32 months.
In the U.K., the prime minister is the head of parliament and is in charge of the day-to-day running of the country, but Queen Elizabeth is the head of state. Therefore she is the person who officially receives foreign dignitaries.
Invitations to a state visit invitations are only granted on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and are used as key tool in the tool kit of international diplomacy — particularly because they involve all the pomp and circumstance of the royal family.
Leaders are given a grand ceremonial welcome by the Queen and other members of the royal family at Horse Guards Parade, a large parade ground in central London near to Buckingham Palace. They are usually invited to travel from there to the Palace in a carriage escorted by soldiers mounted on horseback from the Household Cavalry. The welcome is accompanied by gun salutes fired from Green Park and the Tower of London, according the Royal Household website.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Petra Cahill