Downing Street has confirmed that Donald Trump will be invited early in the new year to visit the UK for an audience with the Queen.
The British government is keen to shore up the “special relationship” with the US, and may seek to warm the new president, who campaigned on a platform opposing free trade, to the idea of a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.
The prime minister will also be keen to quash claims that Nigel Farage, temporary leader of the Ukip party and leader of the Brexit movement that helped to inspire Trump voters, has closer ties with the future president than her ministers do. Mr Farage, who has failed seven times to be elected an MP, has been pushing for a job in the UK government before his career as an MEP in the European parliament ends with Britain’s departure from the EU.
According to The Sunday Times, Mr Trump told Theresa May in a phone call shortly after his election that his late mother, who was Scottish, had been a big supporter of the royal family and that an audience with the Queen would be a good way to earn his good will. An official invitation is expected to be extended soon after Mr Trump is inaugurated on January 20.
“The Queen is the key here,” a cabinet source told the paper. “She’s the biggest public weapon you have. Nigel Farage can’t get in front of the Queen.”
Mr Trump’s state visit will not be the first time the Queen has hosted a controversial guest. In 2010 a visit by Pope Benedict XVI provoked protests across the country in response to the Catholic Church’s views on birth control, gay rights and HIV, as well as in anger over the church’s response to the child sex abuse scandal.
In summer 2014 Li Keqiang caused controversy when his officials threatened to cancel his tour of the UK if he was not granted an audience with the Queen. By convention the Queen meets only heads of state, but the rules were bent to allow Mr Li to meet her.
News | June 13,2017