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So, Donald Trump is coming back to the UK. What should we expect, style-wise?
Caroline, by email
Re-inflate the orange blimp, the human orange blimp is coming back. This June, to be precise, for his first official UK state visit, as opposed to his last visit which was – amusingly, adorably – described as “a working visit”, which is like when I tell my toddlers how helpful they are when they unload the dishwasher by putting all the cutlery in the bin. Last summer, if you remember – and who could forget – Trump spent his four days in Britain alternately hiding from and grumping about the British people who seemed less than enthusiastic about his visit. He managed to be a dick even to the Queen, barging ahead of the 93-year-old woman as she valiantly attempted to humour the giant man-baby on walkabouts around Windsor. But the Queen might, or might not, have had her revenge, possibly-allegedly-maybe sending coded messages through the medium of her brooches to communicate her distaste for this man even other Americans refer to as “that vulgar American”. It was a headily exciting time for us all, and cost the UK tax payer a mere £18m for the joy. Ma’am, we are keenly awaiting your brooch messages. Red for emergency, orange for double emergency.
So why are the Trumps coming back, you ask? Well, officially it’s to discuss defence and security with Theresa May, as well as being the guest of the Queen (brooch at the ready) for a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings. We can only wait to see if Trump bothers to turn up, unlike last November when, while on a trip to France, he couldn’t be faffed to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, where US and French troops who died fighting the Germans in 1918 are buried. It was rainy, you see, and while honouring soldiers is important, avoiding bad hair days are more so.
Some of my compatriots found our president’s behaviour a little mortifying: “It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary – and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,” tweeted the US political writer David Frum. To which I say: sorry, have you only just met our president? The man who claimed John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, but who himself didn’t go to Vietnam at all thanks to bone spurs which even he described as “temporary”? If Trump feels embarrassment at attending military ceremonies, that might be the most noble emotion he’s ever felt.
Still, forward looking. What to expect of this trip, Queen’s brooches aside? Well, Trump is a man who proves Dolly Parton’s timeless adage that it costs a lot to look so cheap, and that’s all that needs saying.
Which brings us to Melania, and the only question is: is Melania actually coming on this trip? Officially, yes, but will it be the real Melania or the fake Melania, ie the woman who occasionally stands next to Trump and doesn’t look that much like his wife? Conspiracy theories invariably overestimate the intelligence of those alleged to be carrying out the plot, and I do have my doubts about whether Trump has the mental capacity to manage a stand-in wife. But I love this theory because it plays to two of my pet theories: one, that Melania patently cannot stand her husband. And second, that we all know this, and our open discussion of this is not about laughing at Trump (well, not entirely), but at the absurd convention in US politics that the president has to be married and present a Norman Rockwell-esque tableau with his wife. We see this with Melania being dragged out to stand next to her husband at events (and then whacking his hand away in disgust), and we see it again with the wife of presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke gazing adoringly up at her husband, as if the past 200 years hadn’t happened.
Only two US presidents weren’t married when they entered the White House – James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland, pub quiz fans – but that may well change. Among the current candidates, Cory Booker is single and while Pete Buttigieg is married, he would be the first gay president. The truth is, the Trumps, with their visible mutual loathing, are like a satire on the anachronistic expectations about how a First Family should look and I, for one, have high hopes about Melania ending them once and for all on this trip, as she whacks Trump’s hand away outside Windsor Castle. And when that happens, we can definitively say this state visit was totally worth it.
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