Controversy is never far from royal circles and at the start of the year, the Queen found herself involved in a row entirely of other people's making. The prospect of a State Visit by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, caused all kinds of arguments, and led to a headline grabbing petition with the Queen at its very heart. The Royal 2017 looks back at the row about a State Visit which still isn't over yet...
The controversy began at the end of January 2017 when Prime Minister, Theresa May, met the newly inaugurated President Trump at the White House and extended a State Visit invitation - meaning the new President would be hosted by the Queen with a carriage procession and State Banquet for good measure. The rows erupted immediately. Within hours, a petition had been started on the UK Government website demanding that President Trump not be given a State Visit because it ''would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty The Queen''. It quickly attracted over 1 million signatures - any petition that gets 100,000 or more is guaranteed a debate in the House of Commons. That discussion took place on February 20th 2017 with the official government response being "HM Government believes the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a State Visit. We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised.''
A counter petition arguing that Donald Trump should make a State Visit attracted over 317,000 signatures and was also debated in the House of Commons. The official government response read "HM Government believes the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a State Visit. We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised.'' Theresa had clearly made her mind up on that one. She'd also made up her mind to go to the country (and we all know how well that one went) meaning the petitions were closed. The protest against the Trump visit closed with around 1.7 million signatures making it the second most signed ever.
The gold coaches and State Banquet remain in the balance even as 2017 comes to an end. There were fresh calls for the invitation to be withdrawn after Donald Trump retweeted videos by the far right group, Britain First, an action which led to a rebuke from Theresa May and another public spat. Just this week, the US ambassador to the UK. Woody Johnson, suggested a working visit by President Trump was on the table for early 2018 while Downing Street once more confirmed the State Visit invitation still stood.
In the end, the United Kingdom hosted just one incoming State Visit this year when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain in the summer. President Trump, meanwhile, got his first taste of European royalty when he met King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians during a visit to their country for a NATO meeting. The Royal 2018 may well rehearse a major moment of the Royal 2017 as the row over a Trump State Visit is likely to run and run.
Photo credit: Wiki Commons/ MonarchieBe Twitter.