Monday, 30th October 2017

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President behaves himself at banquet

Donald Trump breached protocol by appearing to pat the Queen on the back

By Amit Roy in London
  • Published 5.06.19, 1:04 AM
  • Updated 5.06.19, 1:04 AM
  • 3 mins read
Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II at the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in London on Monday (AP)

US President Donald Trump breached protocol by appearing to pat the Queen on the back as she got up to speak at the Buckingham Palace banquet on Monday night but other than that he disappointed his critics by behaving impeccably.

However, he behaved like an Indian in one respect: he took four his four children along — Ivanka, Eric, Donald Junior and Tiffany — to what was a night to remember.

The subliminal message from the Brits to the Americans was: “You may be the richest country in the world but do you have class?”

The so-called “First Daughter” Ivanka Trump, 37, who was placed between international trade secretary Liam Fox and the Countess of Wessex, tweeted alongside images of her family at the banquet: “Beyond wonderful to share this unforgettable evening with this crew.”

The menu included steamed fillet of halibut with watercress mousse, asparagus spears and chervil sauce as the banquet’s starter, followed by a saddle of new season Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, spring vegetables and port sauce.

Trump, who is known to have a sweet tooth, probably enjoyed the dessert — strawberry sable with lemon verbena cream — made of crisp biscuits, smooth pastry cream and fresh strawberries. The Queen earlier inspected the ballroom in person to make sure everything was perfect for her visitors.

Nineteen stations were set up around the table, each manned by four staff — a page, footman, under butler and a wine butler — who used a traffic light system to co-ordinate the serving of courses.

The seating plan on the 171-place horseshoe-shaped table — at which wine including a £1,400-a-bottle Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1990 was served alongside a £34.99 Windsor Great Park 2014 for the toasts — was intriguing.

Trump was sandwiched between the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall, who was described by US ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson as “a riot”.

The First Lady, Melania Trump, was placed between Prince Charles and the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler — the Commons speaker refused to attend the banquet nor did he invite the President to address a joint session of parliament (an honour that was accorded to Narendra Modi, incidentally, in November 2015).

Trump’s outspoken eldest son Donald Junior, 41, was sandwiched between Lady Bamford and Susan Hammond, wife of chancellor Philip Hammond.

Tiffany Trump, 25, the President’s daughter by model Marla Maples, was paired with Mark Tucker, the chairman of HSBC, and Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary and most senior aide.

Big game hunter Eric Trump, 35, had the pleasure of the company of Dame Vivian Hunt, chairman of British/American Business, and Janet Tucker, wife of the HSBC chairman.

Theresa May, attending her last banquet as Prime Minister, sat next to Prince William.

There were 16 members of the royal family at the dinner, including the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Anne, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and the Earl of Wessex. Also present were several senior White House staffers, including national security advisor (and chief “hawk”) John Bolton and press secretary Sarah Huckerbee Sanders.

Each place setting had six glasses – amounting to 1,026 piece of Royal Brierley Crystal – and E II R embroidered napkins, folded like Dutch bonnets.

In his speech, Trump stuck to the script and shocked a lot of people by delivering a speech that did not shock anyone. As with John McEnroe, the former Wimbledon champion, people expect him to behave unconventionally at all times.

Instead, the President heaped a glowing tribute on the Queen: “She has embodied the spirit of dignity, duty, and patriotism that beats proudly in every British heart.

“On behalf of all Americans, I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations and to the long-cherished and truly remarkable reign of Her Majesty, the Queen.”

It was the Queen who delivered what has been interpreted as a remarkably political speech, bearing in mind Trump has little regard for such institutions as the UN, Nato and the EU which he wants the UK to leave.

“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,” she said pointedly.

“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.”