Prepare to meet the Queen, President-elect Donald Trump.
That’s the word that first came from the prestigious Sunday Times, the upper-class daily that is also known as the voice of the royals. According to sources within the prime minister’s office and Buckingham Palace, the Queen will formally invite Trump to Britain for an official state visit next June or July.
Trump has repeatedly described his late Scottish-born mother as “a fan” of Queen Elizabeth II, including in a telephone conversation last week with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
But the Queen is a constitutional monarch and never organizes state occasions without the direct involvement of the elected prime minister and there are political considerations behind the visit.
Government ministers are making no secret of their desire to use the monarch to ensure that relations between the U.S. and the U.K. remain sanguine, and perhaps even to sign a free trade deal between the two countries. One undisclosed cabinet source noted, “The Queen is the key here. She’s not a secret weapon, she’s the biggest public weapon you have. Nigel Farage can’t get [Trump] in front of the Queen.”
The British prime minister has expressed concern that Nigel Farage, a British politician without a seat in the House of Commons but close to Trump, is attempting to be a de-facto government representative with the incoming U.S. administration. He recently met with Trump in New York City.
Farage was a leader of the successful “Brexit” referendum that repudiated British membership in the European Union. Trump took inspiration from that vote and identified with the anti-elitist conservatives who supported it.
Queen Elizabeth II, 90, is now the longest reigning monarch in British history, having surpassed Queen Victoria for that title this year. She came to the throne in 1952 when she met her first president, Harry Truman. She has met with every successive president – with the exception of Lyndon Johnson – since then.