Trump revels in royal pomp and ceremony of state visit
Military pomp, ceremony and Britain’s royal family appeared to charm US President Donald Trump as he began his official state visit on the lawns of Buckingham Palace.
The US leader may have met the Queen last year but, with the full trappings of a state visit around them, the moment was very different.
A welcoming Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were on hand to greet Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump when their US Marine Corps helicopter touched down in the palace gardens.
The prince and president shook hands for around 10 seconds as they exchanged words, and as their wives said hello, Charles guided Mr Trump with a hand on his back towards the West Terrace where the Queen was waiting and the pair shared a joke as they went.
Mr Trump exchanged an unusual handshake with the Queen, who smiled broadly at the foreign head of state as he appeared to grip her fingers with his – rather than hold the whole hand.
Watching from the balcony of the White Drawing Room overlooking the garden was Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband – the president’s adviser Jared Kushner.
The soft diplomacy of the royal family is arguably their greatest weapon when helping to strengthen and renew the UK’s friendships with nations.
The world stature of the British royal family can gently influence presidents, prime ministers and politicians from across the globe and is utilised by the Government of the day.
When the Queen ushered her guests inside so the tradition of the two heads of state introducing important officials to their opposite number could be performed, the president’s helicopter Marine One and an accompanying aircraft left and the guard of honour arrived.
The accolade had been given to Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards under the command of Major Hamish Hardy, and music was provided by the Band of the Grenadier Guards and Corps of Drums of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Charles accompanied the president as he strode on to the lawns to inspect the waiting troops formed up in two lines, with the guardsmen wearing their famous scarlet tunics and bearskins.
Among the soldiers, who when not performing ceremonial duties are fighting servicemen, was Guardsman Joshua Young-Hastings, from Wandsworth, south London.
He was the tallest soldier in the guard of honour and played American football for the London Warriors before joining the Army.
The guardsman was scouted for a professional career with America’s National Football League and was awarded a half scholarship with a Texas university but chose the Grenadier Guards over a sporting career.