Manners maketh man. If you are going to be a prince, moreover, politesse really should be paramount. Monarchy is, if nothing else, all about ancient codes of conduct: honor, chivalry, formality, and bloody well smiling at people you don’t necessarily like.
That seems a bit much for Prince Harry, who, if reports and photos are to be believed, gave the President of the United States a very chilly reception at Buckingham Palace yesterday. He seems to have avoided Mr and Mrs Trump. He stood at the other end of the room and looked sickly.
Of course, such speculation could be a nothing-burger cooked-up by the controversy-addicted tabloids. The press and the social media masses are desperate for a spat between Meghan and Donald Trump, as Cockburn has already noted. But it seems fair to say that Prince Harry didn’t go out of his way to greet the president and his family. The speculation, naturally, is that Prince Harry is furious at Trump for having said that his wife, Meghan Markle, was ‘nasty’ in an interview with the Sun.
But this is a state visit, not an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Surely Prince Harry should have sucked up his pride and wheeled out that roguish charm we have all heard so much about? Besides, if Harry has bothered to read the full quotes, he would have seen that Trump was keen to emphasize that he thought Meghan would ‘do excellently. She will be very good.’
Trump has a thick hide, of course, and excels at being rude himself — but he’s a president and a real-estate mogul, and nobody expects better. He said some rude words on Twitter about Sadiq Khan before landing in Britain yesterday (to be fair, Khan started it). Away from social media, however, the president is actually polite, even downright courteous. He did his absolute best to stay in stride with the Queen yesterday, no easy task given how slowly Her Majesty moves these days. After visiting Westminster Abbey, Trump wrote a touching note in the visitor book: ‘Thank you so much,’ he said, in his large, deliberate handwriting. ‘This has been a great honor. Special place.’
The scores on the polite doors: Donald Trump 4, Prince Harry 0.
Prince Harry’s job is to be accommodating: a public face for Great Britain. It’s not easy, of course — constantly having to grin and nod and shake hands as the world snoops on you. But it isn’t exactly hard.
Perhaps Prince Harry really is offended by Trump’s remarks, in which case he is being petty. Or is he so completely under his new and famously ‘woke’ wife’s thumb that he was under strict instructions to show the leader of the free world that he deems him ‘unacceptable’? Perhaps then, the British monarchy really is kow-towing to a brash American outsider. Only it isn’t Donald Trump.