President Trump was feted at a state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II on Monday evening, a glittering gathering at Buckingham Palace attended by other members of the royal family – though not Meghan Markle – and various British luminaries.
The event was the symbolic high point of Trump’s three-day state visit to Britain, only the third by a sitting U.S. president (George W. Bush and Barack Obama were previous guests of Her Majesty). More serious meetings with politicians and local business leaders are scheduled for Tuesday, as are anti-Trump protests planned for cities across the U.K., including one that will feature opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
By tradition, the queen and Trump both delivered toasts at the banquet. “As we face the new challenges of the 21st century, the [75th] anniversary of D-Day reminds us of all that our countries have achieved together,” Queen Elizabeth said. “After the shared sacrifices of the Second World War, Britain and the United States worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions, to ensure that the horrors of conflict would never be repeated. While the world has changed, we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures: nations working together to safeguard a hard won peace.”
Trump spoke of the “treasured friendship” across the Atlantic. He said that the so-called “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain had helped ensure the “safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades.”
Among the guests were Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, and Prince William, second in line to the throne, and his wife, Catherine. Absent was new mother Markle, Prince Harry’s wife, whom Trump described in an interview before his visit as a “nasty” person. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Markle (now known as the Duchess of Sussex) had criticized Trump for being “divisive” and a “misogynist.”
Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are also in London for the visit, which prompted one commentator to remark that the occasion has brought together the leading American and British luxury brands: the House of Trump and the House of Windsor.
The president and the first lady arrived on Air Force One on Monday morning, and later attended a private lunch with the queen. They also had tea with Charles and Camilla, an event attended by Harry but not by his wife.
So far there have been no gaffes by Trump like the one he committed last year, when he breached royal protocol by turning his back on the queen and striding in front of her during a visit to Windsor Castle. However, on Monday, after the queen gave him a first edition of a book by Winston Churchill, Trump was shown a pewter horse and was asked if he recognized it. After he said no, Melania murmured, “I think we gave that to the queen.”