Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Hip, Hip, Hooray to the Queen's History Lesson

Let’s give a traditional British cheer to the Queen—Hip, Hip, Hooray; Hip, Hip, Hooray; Hip, Hip, Hooray—for her nuanced yet clearly distinguishable and distinguished public rebuke of Donald Trump’s disruptive attacks on global institutions that have safeguarded democracies since the end of World War II.

Speaking in what the Daily Mail called “code,” Queen Elizabeth II’s toast during the formal state dinner for her visitor included the following: “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. 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.” (https://mol.im/a/7100721)

It could hardly go unnoticed that Trump has questioned the value of NATO, has sharply criticized several of its members including the leaders of Germany, France and even Great Britain, has sided with NATO’s chief adversary, Russia, and has sought to undermine the European Union. 

The queen’s foray into tactful but forthright diplomacy was a deviation from her normal, at least in public, arms-length distance from politics. Contrast that long held behavior to that of Prince Charles who has been reliably reported to be eager to confront, or shall we say, educate, Trump about the realities of climate change. 

For his dinner toast, Trump  lavished praise on the 93-year-old monarch who has provided “seven decades of treasured friendship.” He called her “a great, great woman.” 

“On behalf of all Americans, I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations, and to the long-cherished and truly remarkable reign of her majesty, the Queen,” he said. 

Trump also said he was toasting the “common values that will unite us long into the future—freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, the rule of law and reverence for the rights given to us by Almighty God.”

By including “self-determination” Trump may have been signaling his support for Brexit, a stance he has openly endorsed. 

How Trump will react to the gloved hand rebuke by the queen is unknown at this time. It is doubtful he will call her “nasty,” as he did her granddaughter-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle). Trump loves pageantry, even if it casts a shadow on him. All he will remember is the sumptuous surroundings of a state dinner in Buckingham Palace, with all eyes on him and the queen.