The Queen is set to invite Donald Trump to Windsor Castle as part of a Government strategy to foster closer ties with the President-elect.
Plans for Mr Trump’s official state visit in the summer of 2017 are being drawn up at the highest levels in Whitehall.
The Queen’s invitation is reportedly seen by Whitehall as a “secret weapon” to boost the “special relationship” between London and Washington….. as well as an attempt to disrupt UKIP’s ties with the new president.
Preparations are underway to give the US President-elect the red-carpet treatment during his visit to London in summer of next year, the Sunday Times reported, citing ministerial and cabinet sources.
In arranging the much-anticipated visit, much focus has been put on utilizing Donald Trump’s sympathies towards the British monarchy, the newspaper said.
During his first official phone conversation with Theresa May, Trump told Britain’s prime minister that his mother had been a big fan of Elizabeth II and asked her to pass his “best wishes” on to the Queen.
“The government has decided that their secret weapon to get in with Trump is to offer him an early visit to the Queen, him and [his wife] Melania staying at Windsor Castle,” a source who has discussed the issue with a cabinet minister told the newspaper.
Another cabinet source said the Queen “is not a secret weapon, she’s the biggest public weapon you have,” adding that UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage “can’t get [Trump] in front of the Queen.”
Last week, the Sunday Times published a memo from the UK’s ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, who advised the government to employ Trump’s “inexperience” in foreign policy to shape his vision on pressing international issues by launching a “charm offensive” on the new president and his team.
The Prime Minister plans to meet Trump in person before the end of the year, while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is expected to visit him before Christmas.
In the meantime, resurgent UKIP leader and Trump admirer Farage, as well as his fellow party members Andy Wigmore and Raheem Kassam, and donor Arron Banks, have already met the President-elect since the US election.
A member of Farage’s delegation described Trump as “a massive Anglophile” eager to build personal ties between the White House and Windsor. “He said, ‘I’m going to meet her, too. I can’t wait to come over to England. My mum would be chuffed to bits when I meet the Queen.’”
The invitation for the high-level visit is expected to go through official channels to prevent UKIP from serving as an intermediary with the Trump administration.
Earlier this week, May’s staff put more restraints on Farage’s activities, allegedly directing the Foreign Office to strip diplomatic status from Wigmore, who currently acts as an unpaid diplomat for Belize, a tiny country on the eastern shore of South America.
While the Foreign Office denied any involvement, Banks told the Sunday Times that British diplomats had conveyed their displeasure over Wigmore’s status to a Belizean high commissioner last week, saying that his campaigning for Brexit was inconsistent with diplomatic rules.
Arron Banks blamed the government for “trying to punish Andy,” adding that “they should be applauding the connection we have with Trump, not complaining.”
Another member of Farage’s group, Raheem Kassam, who is also believed to have connections with Trump’s team, is currently editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, a fast-growing rightwing website that has been repeatedly described by some commentators as racist and inclined to promote white supremacist views.
One of Whitehall’s motivations for inviting Trump to the UK is almost certainly to secure his support for a post-Brexit free trade agreement with the US. The President-elect has made it clear that he is interested in reaching such a deal, unlike his predecessor President Barack Obama, who made a controversial statement before the EU referendum, saying that the UK would be driven to “the back of the queue” in terms of trade if the ‘Leave’ camp prevailed.