This week, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump traveled to the United Kingdom. As part of their visit, they met were scheduled to meet with Queen Elizabeth II for a cup of tea at Windsor Castle. Royal meetings are fraught with protocol — let alone with Trump, who has an extensive history of awkward public encounters with world leaders (and his wife). Royal devotees worldwide were clutching their pearls over what went down.
Trump committed a breach of protocol when he walked in front of the Queen. As they walked together, Trump charged ahead of the monarch; the Queen had to physically point to where he was supposed to stand. In another instance, Trump cuts off the path of the Queen entirely. Queen Elizabeth II has met every American president since Truman. Her icy glare, made famous to a new generation on The Crown, is captured in the cringeworthy photographs.
Additionally, the New York Times reported that the president and the first lady forgot to bow and curtsey when they met Her Majesty. This was after they arrived 15 minutes late for their meeting, forcing the Queen to stand in the hot weather.
Twitter erupted into jokes over Trump’s protocol breach — and by jokes, we mean, a gobsmacked combination of shame and astonishment. Royalists and anti-royalists alike were appalled at Trump’s disrespectful gesture.
i know comments on trump's intelligence often veer into hyperbole but today the queen of england literally had to instruct trump on how to walk properlypic.twitter.com/ECRGmXQoQG— jordan (@JordanUhl) July 13, 2018
I’m not a monarchist by any stretch of the imagination but this is such an insult to Britain. Absolutely clueless, classless, thoughtless, lacking in any dignity and without a shred of respect. pic.twitter.com/RBFXe4yZ9H— Matthew McGregor (@mcgregormt) July 13, 2018
TRUMP: It's too bad the Queen couldn't be here to meet me. pic.twitter.com/9WM7ph3fBr— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) July 14, 2018
This is an important point. I see a lot of people bashing the monarchy, and okay. Whatever. She's a 92 year-old woman that he's walking with. Simple respect and decorum would cause him to walk at her pace regardless of who she is.— Rena #CrossfireHurricane RF (@RenaRF) July 14, 2018
Me: I hate the Royals, they are leeches on society. Also me: DONALD TRUMP DON’T DO THAT TO THE QUEEN— •lina• (@agirlcalledlina) July 14, 2018
Among royal watchers, Trump’s lack of deference is appalling. Many pointed out that Queen of England is also a 92-year-old woman with slower physical mobility. Walking in pace with an elderly person — nobility or not — are basic manners in almost every culture, noted the Times.
When foreign dignitaries interact with the the royal family, traditional etiquette and deference are considered especially important. There is an entire office at the state department whose job it is to train American dignitaries on diplomatic manners.
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