Theresa May’s controversial decision to invite Donald Trump for a state visit to the UK has put the Queen in a very difficult position, a former head of the Foreign Office has claimed.
In a letter to The Times, Lord Ricketts urged the Prime Minister to move fast to save the Queen from further controversy by downgrading the visit as protests against Mr Trump’s divisive travel ban spread from the US to major cities across the UK.
He claimed Mrs May’s invitation was both premature and unprecedented, as no president has ever been given a state visit during their first year in the White House.
Although Barack Obama first visited the UK two months into his presidency, it took 28 months before he made a state visit.
George W Bush spent 32 months in office before being hosted by the Queen.
Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both two term presidents made no state visit at all during their eight years in power.
Lord Ricketts wrote: It would have been far wiser to wait to see what sort of president he would turn out to be before advising the Queen to invite him. Now the Queen is put in a very difficult position.
A petition calling for Mr Trump to be prevented from making a state visit because it would cause embarrassment to the Queen has showed no sign of slowing down, and has now attracted more than 1.5 million signatures.
Despite the backlash, a Number 10 statement said: To be clear, the Prime Minister extended an invitation on behalf of the Queen and she was very happy to do so. The USA is one of this country’s closest allies, and we look forward to hosting the President later this year.
The Times reported that royal officials are concerned as they don’t want the Queen being dragged into something political.