The Queen handled Donald Trump's state visit 'beautifully'

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
The Queen hosted a private lunch and state banquet with US President Donald Trump during his three-day state visit [Photos: PA]

It set out to be one of the most controversial state visits in recent years, but Donald Trump’s trip to the UK seemingly went off without a hitch.

Aside from a stray tweet or two.

While Trump appeared to backtrack on his comments about the NHS being “on the table” during trade talks on day two, his meetings with the Royal Family were without drama or breaches of protocol.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams says the British public was expecting the president to be “absolutely outrageous” in the lead-up to his arrival in the UK, given the controversial interview he’d conducted with The Sun beforehand and his tweet calling the London Mayor Sadiq Khan a “stone cold loser.”

According to Fitzwilliams, the benefit was that people have been far more interested in a state visit than usual. “You have the most volatile and unpredictable head of state on the planet and no one knew what he’d do and what he’d say,” he says, adding that the Royal Family “prepared and handled it very, very well.”

READ MORE: Why President Trump and Melania didn't bow or curtsy to the Queen

The President and the Queen at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace [Photo: PA]

Mr Trump and his wife Melania spent their first day with the Royal Family, kick-starting engagements off with a ceremonial welcome and a private lunch at Buckingham Palace.

Next up came a tour of Westminster Abbey, tea at Clarence House and then the state banquet on Monday evening.

There were a lot of events for the Royal Family to be across on the first day along - and, according to Fitzwilliams, the Queen handled it all “beautifully.”

Fitzwilliams adds: “The government has no majority, the prime minister is on the way out and Brexit has divided the nation. The only reliable symbol of national unity is the Queen, she’s truly remarkable and she handled it [the state visit] beautifully.”

Victoria Arbiter, royal commentator for CNN, tweeted that the President and First Lady “have clearly been bowled over by the Queen this week.”

She continued: “She's long impressed captains of industry & those in powerful positions. Republicans have even called her "untouchable" but this is the first time I have seen Mr. Trump exhibit such deference to another person.”

On day two of the visit, we saw a “completely different Trump” says body language expert Judi James.

He started the day at a breakfast meeting with Theresa May and senior UK and US business leaders.

“It was classic Trump,” James says, “He was pseudo-aggressive and the living embodiment of his tweets during the press conference.”

“But when it came to meeting the Royal Family, his body language was measured and well choreographed. You could see him and Melania working together to get it right.

“Visually he and the Queen got on and there was a moment when they looked like shared a joke together.

“During the viewing of the US exhibits, he was really focused on what he was being shown and bent down to the Queen’s level. The Queen’s a pro at this, but to Trump, it would be seen as flattering and rapport-building.”

READ MORE: Duchess of Cambridge wears Princess Diana's tiara for state banquet with Queen and Donald Trump

Prince Charles displayed 'self-comfort rituals' as he met Trump [Photo: PA]

But were they any sign of nerves from the royals?

James comments: “It was a big moment for Charles and Camilla as well. I noticed that when Charles walked out from the palace to meet the Trumps, he always performs a lot of self-comfort rituals but he was accelerating and repeating them more than normal. That showed that he was pretty anxious that the meeting would go well.”

And what about the younger royals? Just days before the state visit, Mr Trump learned that Meghan described him as a “misogynistic” before she became a royal and he responded with “I didn’t know she was nasty.

Her husband Harry met the president and his family at a private lunch on Monday afternoon.

READ MORE: Donald Trump says he avoided talking to Prince Harry about Meghan Markle row

Prince Harry appeared to 'hang back' when Mr Trump was viewing the US exhibits [Photo: Getty]

James says: “In Trump’s mind, Harry was as friendly as he could be but the shots we saw of Harry, he was definitely lurking in corners and staring at Trump.”

She noted that when Prince William was at the state banquet, he was “gazing at the ceiling” during Trump’s speech: “Maybe he was not quite as worried about being a bit controversial.”

She continued: “The senior royals like Camilla and Charles and the Queen, they’re going to be charming whoever the guest is and they never vary from that, in a way that made them inscrutable. Trump would have seen that as a wonderfully warm greeting.”