LONDON – I have a secret. I can’t verify it, but I can share it. It’s this: I think Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II likes President Donald Trump.
Honestly, I’ve been studying video of them together and despite what the press here thinks, I believe she likes him. She’s amused by him. Poor woman, she deserves some amusement; she deserves some international figure who isn’t fazed by the honor of meeting the world’s most important monarch.
Consider what a relief it must be for the queen to see someone as unlearned in matters of protocol as Trump. Legions of heads of state and heads of government have leaned low over her hand while their wives have curtsied, often clumsily despite hours of practice. What a trial all this must be to a woman of 93, who has been subject to this since her ascent as queen in 1952.
Elizabeth must be the hardest-working woman on earth. She’s met thousands of stiff, boring men, day after day. She’s been sung to by countless legions of well-scrubbed schoolchildren and has endured thousands of hours of native dancing, from the Maoris of New Zealand to the Ndebele of Zimbabwe.
The mere knowledge that you’re to go to Buckingham Palace produces a kind of paralysis in most. The honor of the thing with the ghastly small talk they feel they must be ready to speak can only make for a tedium that defies imagination. From great generals like America’s Dwight Eisenhower to mass murders like Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu, each has taken the royal paw and whispered idiocies about the weather in London that day.
No one — except possibly Trump — meets the queen without hours of preparation. How to shake hands, how to check that the great moment hasn’t caused you to break out in an embarrassing sweat. Those clothes! Is it to be rented morning wear (Who owns that?) or something less formal. Has your wife ordered correctly? Nothing off-the-peg or too high-fashion — except for Melania who, on this trip, appeared to be working as an haute couture model.
There’s evidence that the queen, after a long life of boredom, finds some relief in two American exceptions: Meghan Markle, the wife of her grandson, Prince Harry, and Trump.
Would the queen, one wonders, have opened Buckingham Palace to NATO for a reception if she hadn’t liked Trump who, for good or otherwise, was the man of the hour: the mad cousin, if you will, expected to metaphorically blow on his soup and say awful things, but still the most important member of the family.
I think the gauche American president was a little reward the hard-working Windsor (the family name, in case you’ve forgotten) who was dealing with yet another family crisis: An American woman has accused the queen’s son, Prince Andrew, of having sex with her when she was just 17 years old.
The rest of the NATO summit was all downhill. Trump left early when the media published and broadcast pictures of others at the summit chortling about him, including his host, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the queen’s daughter Princess Anne and – Oh, the villainy! — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who regaled a small group with gestures, showing how Trump’s aides were open-mouthed at what their boss had said at his press conference.
Anne was already in bad favor with her mother for not joining the receiving line at the palace along with the her more dutiful brother, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla.
Those who made merry of Trump’s antics might beware. He’s a counterpuncher (which means vindictive) and someone already critical of NATO. A chortle at Buckingham Palace might irreparably harm the defense alliance.
Maybe the queen will have reason to regret her hospitality and warmth toward the boredom-breaking American president. Her majesty won’t then be amused any longer.
On Twitter: @llewellynking2
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of "White House Chronicle" on PBS.
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