America’s cable news shows have been offering rolling coverage of Donald Trump’s State Visit to the UK, revelling in the pomp and circumstance of the occasion with ‘royal experts’ on hand to guide viewers through every nod and handshake.
But the outlets are also on high alert for signs that the US president is ignoring protocol or prompting a diplomatic storm, after he gave a newspaper interview in which he weighed into the Tory leadership race and appeared to criticise the Duchess of Sussex. As one CNN commentator put it, “he’s a bull carrying a china shop on his back”.
There is a consensus that Mr Trump is eager not to put a foot wrong during his royal engagements and Melania Trump, the First Lady, has reportedly spent a great deal of time studying up on royal etiquette ahead of the three-day visit.
American commentators have spent the day recounting mistakes made by previous heads of state – president Jimmy Carter famously broke protocol by kissing the Queen Mother on the lips, and much was made of former First Lady Michelle Obama putting her arm around the Queen in 2009.
But according to the US media, Mr Trump is less bothered by the political side of his visit. “Only minutes into his trip to the UK, President Trump had already lobbed a number of political grenades into a nation not exactly settled at the moment,” said CNN.
The New York Times underscored Mr Trump’s fondness for the Queen, on full display at his speech during Monday night’s state banquet in which he called her a “great, great woman”. The newspaper suggested the Queen was less impressed with the president, saying she “pointedly took note of the multilateral institutions that Britain and the United States helped to create after World War II to prevent another war — institutions, like NATO, that Mr. Trump has denigrated”.
Meanwhile Fox News was very taken with the Duchess of Cornwall – its main online coverage of the proceedings on Monday night proclaimed “cheeky Camilla” had become a “viral sensation… after she was seen offering a wink to the cameras as she and Prince Charles greeted President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump”. The network also noted similarities between Mrs Trump’s daytime outfit and ensembles worn by Princess Diana and the Duchess of Sussex.
The president’s ongoing feud with London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been featured on prominently on US news sites, after Mr Trump called the London Mayor a “stone cold loser” in an early morning tweet-storm.
.@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2019
American outlets have also focused on how Britain feels about rolling the red carpet out for an outspoken president. “Britain seems a reluctant host,” read one headline in the Washington Post.
“There is a sense that British officials are slightly less than enthusiastic about this particular round of state visit grandeur,” the newspaper wrote, noting that Mr Trump would not be staying at Buckingham Palace or experiencing the traditional gold carriage procession down the Mall.
Much has also been made of the “baby blimp”, a 20-foot orange balloon portraying the president in a nappy and clutching a mobile, which is expected to fly through the capital along with tens of thousands of protesters on Tuesday.
Several organisations reported that Mr Trump had opted to take a helicopter ride for the three-mile journey from Buckingham Palace and the US Ambassador’s residence, where the president is staying, to avoiding central London streets.
Fox News, the president’s favourite TV network, carried an article online criticising the British press for throwing “cold water on Trump, not concentrating on the diplomatic details of the visit”.