The petition to ‘Prevent Donald Trump from making a State visit to the United Kingdom’ has now almost two million signatures. But it seems that many have been caught up in the idea of banning Trump from visiting UK, rather than actually reading the wording of the petition. It states that President Trump would ‘cause embarrassment’ to the Her Majesty the Queen because of his “well documented misogyny and vulgarity”. It is hard to argue with this deduction of Trump’s character, but the Queen is more than well equipped to deal with these traits.
To begin with, Trump has been President for just two weeks, whilst the Queen has been meeting heads of state for 63 years and seven months. During that time she has received a multitude of royals, Presidents, Sheikhs and heads of state with grace and propriety. These have included Robert Mugabe, who was even awarded an Honorary Knighthood in 1994, before having it taken away by Gordon Brown due to the extreme nature of his regime and its treatment of the opposition.
Another notable character is Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania who has, since his state visit in 1978, been executed by firing squad after destroying the economy, causing famine and disease, and firing on protesters. Finally, Bashar Al Assad was the first Syrian leader to meet the Queen, in 2002, and yet the crisis which currently engulfs the Middle East has arguably been escalated by Assad’s refusal to relinquish his hold on his people’s liberties. According to UN statistics from last April, this has resulted in 400,000 lives lost and millions displaced, and this is without taking into account the more recent refugee crisis, as people are forced to flee the area.
Calling these figures ‘vulgar’ does not even come close to accurately describing their actions. If the Queen was able to cordially shake hands with these men, it would be surprising if she was embarrassed by receiving President Trump.
Some people argue that the monarch should be a neutral figure and refusing to receive President Trump would indicate a political inclination. Indeed, as a non-elected leader the Queen should simply execute the will of our elected Prime Minister. Theresa May is currently continuously defending herself over the decision to invite the President for a state visit. Yet if the Prime Minister were to revoke this decision, not only would she most likely lose the commitments he has made to NATO and to a UK-US trade deal, but also the means to influence and inform his decisions. Therefore, she was actually acting in the best interests of the country. Being Prime Minister might mean walking hand in hand with people that you don’t agree with, sometimes literally. As the saying goes: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
However, others say that since the Queen is an international symbol of our country, she should represent and promote the morals that we, as a nation, stand for. But what use would Elizabeth II occasionally stating her opinion actually be? Since she has effectively yielded all power to the executive, she has little means to actually alter the course that the country’s leader chooses to steer. In the long run, it is perhaps better to accept Trump’s visit, rather than very publically snub him. For the sake of Americans, let us not poke the bear.
Image: Josh Green