Trump’s surreal royal visit turns from pomp to politics

Updated 6:43 AM EDT, Tue June 4, 2019
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) views a display of US items of the Royal collection with US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump at Buckingham palace at Buckingham Palace in central London on June 3, 2019, on the first day of their three-day State Visit to the UK. - Britain rolled out the red carpet for US President Donald Trump on June 3 as he arrived in Britain for a state visit already overshadowed by his outspoken remarks on Brexit. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) views a display of US items of the Royal collection with US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump at Buckingham palace at Buckingham Palace in central London on June 3, 2019, on the first day of their three-day State Visit to the UK. - Britain rolled out the red carpet for US President Donald Trump on June 3 as he arrived in Britain for a state visit already overshadowed by his outspoken remarks on Brexit. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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(CNN) —  

It was the moment when a famous, powerful dynasty, built on inherited wealth, hounded by tabloids and with a weakness for palatial, gold-encrusted residences met … the British royal family.

The Trump clan descended on Buckingham Palace on Monday, and Queen Elizabeth II seemed to cast a calming spell on the President, who put his smash mouth style on hold for a few hours while in her presence.

The opening of Trump’s often surreal state visit came as political tornadoes rage around the governments in Washington and London, and the President reigns supreme as the world’s most divisive figure.

But the Queen, who started meeting presidents when Harry S. Truman was in the White House and she was a mere princess, earned a rarely seen deference and respect from the often raucous American commander in chief.

It’s all but certain to be a temporary interlude, given that the sensitive politics of the trip – including US visions for a retooled special relationship – muscle to center stage Tuesday.

The President had flown into Britain looking for trouble – firing off a tweet blasting London Mayor Sadiq Khan as “a stone cold loser” – before Air Force One’s tires kissed British soil in a puff of smoke.

But 66 years and one day from the time he watched the coronation on TV with his Scottish mother, Trump appeared enthralled and unusually engaged alongside the 93-year-old head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith.

Finally on equal footing

Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Trump was once spurned as too vulgar and self-promoting for the most exclusive circles in Manhattan. But here he was on equal footing with the world’s longest serving monarch and the latest in a privileged line of kings and queens dating back more than 1,000 years.

At the state banquet, Trump, smartly dressed in white tie, praised the Queen as a “great, great woman.”

“She has embodied the spirit of dignity, duty and patriotism that beats proudly in every British heart,” he said.

The Queen, while warmly praising Trump and America, was nevertheless pointed in her praise for post-World War II security structures that the President has often criticized.

“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,” said the Queen, who wore a state evening gown with a blue Garter sash secured by a broach bearing 10 diamonds that once belonged to Queen Victoria.

“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,” the British monarch said.