Donald Trump’s eagerly-anticipated state banquet at Buckingham Palace was remarkable, to many, for its lack of controversy.
After the pomp and pageantry of the ceremonial welcome which clearly impressed the US leader and First Lady Melania Trump, he ended the first day of his state visit by praising the wartime strength of Britain, its people and the monarchy, in a speech delivered during the lavish event.
“As we honour our shared victory and heritage, we affirm the common values that will unite us long into future,” said Trump, which followed the Queen’s own speech paying tribute to US and UK harmony and “strong cultural links and shared heritage”.
Here are some of the details.
1. The royal protocol
There was one moment where the president came close to putting a foot wrong.
Trump appeared to breach accepted royal protocol by touching the the monarch on the back as she rose for his toast.
“Trump briefly and gently put his left hand out behind the monarch,” reported the Press Association.
“The Queen seemed unperturbed.”
Her Majesty showed few signs of being perturbed or otherwise as they clinked glasses (there was no reports on whether this also broke obscure royal rules).
2. The menu
In the opulent Buckingham Palace ballroom, guests were first treated to steamed fillet of halibut with watercress mousse, asparagus spears and chervil sauce.
Guests washed down their dinner with wines costing from £38 up to £1,400, but not Trump – who is teetotal.
Here’s the menu in full.
- Steamed fillet of halibut with watercress mousse, asparagus spears and chervil sauce.
- Saddle of new season Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, spring vegetables, port sauce.
- Strawberry sable with lemon verbena cream.
- Selection of assorted fresh fruits.
- Coffee and petit fours.
3. The seating
The biggest controversy surrounding the event involved those declining an offer to attend: including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Commons Speaker John Bercow and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable.
Some of the seating arrangements on the night raised eyebrows, with the Trump dynasty and entourage mingling with the royal family, British politicians and industry chiefs.
As is tradition, the Queen was at the head of the table, with the Prince of Wales on her left and Trump on her right. Charles was is seated next to Melania Trump, while Camilla was on the other side of the president and next to US ambassador Woody Johnson.
The Duchess of Cambridge was seated between US secretary of the treasury Steven Mnuchin and the Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin.
The president’s daughter and adviser Ivanka is seated between the Countess of Wessex and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter, was seated between HSBC chairman Mark Tucker and the Queen’s top aide, her private secretary Edward Young.
4. The politics
There was some. Trump waded into the Brexit debate, with the White House insisting withdrawal from the EU needs to be achieved in a way that will not hit global economic stability.
The US president said an independent UK is “a blessing” to the world, on the first day of a controversial state visit to Britain.
He said: “A strong and independent United Kingdom, like a strong and independent United States, is truly a blessing on the world.”
However, US officials struck a clear note of caution on how Brexit should be handled, saying the US was “preparing for all outcomes”.
The White House said: “As the United Kingdom continues to work toward a plan to leave the European Union, the United States pledges to maintain a strong relationship with both.
“The United States will continue to prepare for all outcomes and co-ordinate with governments, financial institutions and international bodies to protect its interests.
“President Trump supports Brexit being accomplished in a way that will not affect global economic and financial stability while also securing independence to the United Kingdom.”
- The music
That’s right, there was no escape from Ed Sheeran.
Headlining the music programme was a version of Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, with other musical selections including works by Handel and American composer Aaron Copland.
Tonight from the American musical West Side Story was also on the programme.