It was obvious from the very beginning of the President Trump era that things were going to take some getting used to, especially considering just how clearly different he is from former president Barack Obama. And this week, it sounds like Britain is getting an education on one such difference: Trump reportedly wants a gold-plated carriage ride when he visits London, a gaudy honor that Obama turned down when he visited the close American ally back in 2011.
According to a report from U.K. newspaper The Times, the White House has indicated to the British government that a Trump trip to Buckingham Palace in the Queen's gold-drenched royal carriage is a must. It's not unprecedented for a foreign head-of-state to do this, to be clear ― Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto rolled over to Buckingham Palace with the queen in an opulent carriage during his official visit in 2015.
But the insistence on the Trump administration's part is a marked departure from his predecessor. Obama passed on the high-profile carriage ride, reportedly to spare his hosts all the extra logistical and security trouble that came with it. Indeed, thanks in part to the surge of protest Trump's visit will cause, security costs for his visit could reportedly top £7 million.
Trump's anticipated trip has proven hugely controversial across the pond, resulting in tumultuous arguments and outcry in the British parliament. As CNN detailed back in February when parliament was debating a Trump visit, Labour Party MP David Lammy decried the possibility of a state visit, arguing it was an honor not given to past presidents like Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan.
We didn't do this for Kennedy, we didn't do this for Truman, we didn't do this for Reagan, but for this man ... we say, "Please come and we will lay on everything, because we are so desperate for your company." I think this country is greater than that.
The fervent debate reportedly also included Labour MP Paul Flynn comparing the president's behavior to that of a "petulant child," describing his intellect as "protozoan" ― as in, comparable to that of a single-cell protozoa ― and warning that a full-fledged state visit would send a bad message to the country, possibly being seen as condoning his actions.
Suffice to say Trump's expected trek to London is going to draw a lot of heat, and that's true whether or not he gets to ride around in a golden carriage for a while.