May we correct a much-repeated mistake in coverage of the petition to the UK Parliament to prevent Donald Trump making a State Visit to the UK?
This has often been erroneously reported in Australian and United States media as a desire to prevent Mr Trump visiting the UK per se.
This is not so. In fact, the petition refers specifically to such a visit being a State visit, the highest possible honour conferred on a visitor, and specifically so that he would not have to be entertained by the Queen.
As the petition states, Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen. The petition continues “Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.”
This is a little detail, perhaps, but surely a significant one.
Britons are presumably concerned that a man who used his Twitter account to encourage Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (then known as Kate Middleton), to sunbathe topless so that paparazzi could photograph her would be especially offensive to the Royal Family, who have frequently had to protest at the unwanted attentions of photographers, and who successfully sued to have the Middleton photographs restricted. The Royal Family would be far too polite to point this out, so the public are doing it for them.
And just days after Princess Diana died in a car crash, in which the paparazzi were again involved, President Trump notoriously asserted on the radio that he could have slept with her.
Howard Stern asked him: ‘Why do people think it’s egotistical of you to say you could’ve gotten with Lady Di? You could’ve gotten her, right? You could’ve nailed her.’ ‘I think I could have,’ Trump replied.
On the same radio show three years later, he referred to Lady Diana as ‘crazy, but these are minor details’, again saying he would have slept with her ‘without even hesitation’.
Presumably more than 1.8 million people feel the Queen shouldn’t be forced to share a royal carriage with such a man, much less have to make polite chit chat sitting next to him at dinner.
And no doubt similar considerations were behind House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s overnight decision not to ask Mr Trump to address Parliament when he visits.
In a post-truth world, it surely pays to remember facts.