The Associated Press LONDON (AP) — The British government’s decision to invite President Donald Trump for a state visit, one of the highest honors it can bestow on a visiting dignitary, has involved Queen Elizabeth II in the passionate debate over Trump’s travel ban.
Trump’s provocative decision to deny refugees access to the United States and to make it more difficult for people from seven Muslim-majority countries to visit has been widely denounced by opposition leaders and sparked protests in Britain, leading some to question the wisdom of the government’s decision.
It is the British government, currently led by Prime Minister Theresa May, that invites heads of state on the queen’s behalf, but it is the queen who acts as hostess. In most cases, that involves lavish pomp and ceremony, as well as a stay of several days at the queen’s official residence, Buckingham Palace.
The prospect of protests outside the palace when Trump comes calling has put the queen in a “very difficult position,” said Peter Ricketts, formerly a top official in the Foreign Office.
In a letter to The Times on Tuesday, Ricketts said the “state visit” should be downgraded to a lower level “official visit” to spare the monarch any embarrassment. He said the invitation should not have been extended in the first days of Trump’s administration.
“It would have been far wiser to wait and see what sort of president he would turn out to be before advising the queen to invite him,” Ricketts said.