Hello and hi. Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK is heavily trending in the news. Of course it is. The state visit to the UK later this year, has sparked anger and outrage here in the UK and across the world. Essentially, Trump’s ban on entry for nationals of 7 Muslim-majority countries has got people seeing red. As a result, a petition has been signed by over a million people who are calling for the state visit to be cancelled. Of course, you know of all of this-or we simply can’t be friends. Sorry (not sorry). But what exactly is a state visit? Luckily, I am here to help you. You are welcome. Ok, let’s do this.
State Visit: General Overview
A state visit is a formal visit by a head of state to a foreign country. Specifically, it is an invitation of that country’s head of state (with the latter acting as the official host) so, here in the UK, the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II and not the Prime Minister. In brief, the Queen has invited the ‘President’ for some tea, a nice chat and some rather fancy food at Buckingham Palace. Hope The Donald can read or speak French, as the menu will be in French. Yup.
Essentially, state visits are pretty grand affairs and the aim of them is to strengthen relationships between countries. This is the crux of state visits. Further, in the UK, heads of state of foreign countries are invited to visit the Queen on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Normally, the Queen will usually receive one or two heads of state a year. Since becoming monarch in 1752 (I kid…she became monarch in 1952) the Queen has hosted 109 state visits.
State Visit itinerary
A state visit will last a couple of days. It commences as the Queen and members of the Royal Family greet their invited guests/visitors with a ceremonial welcome-normally on Horse Guards Parade. The guest/visitor/foreign head of state will usually stay at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle or occasionally at Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (but I think that this is pretty rare).
The guest/visitor is invited to inspect a Guard of Honour before travelling back to the palace in a carriage procession, escorted by mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry. I have actually seen this a few times-it is a pretty grand thing to see. Yes. Yes, it is. Anyway, the ‘welcome campaign’ is then accompanied by gun salutes fired from Green Park and the Tower of London. Normally in the evening-on the day of the arrival-the visitors are hosted at a sate banquet held in the Buckingham Palace ballroom. This is a very big deal.
During the banquet, the Queen will make a speech a propose a toast to the visiting head of state-and they in return, will toast the Queen. Donald of course, will be toasting with ginger ale as he (nor any of his children) drink alcohol. Yes, he is stone cold sober making all those crazy decisions along with issuing these nonsensical executive orders. But, I digress…Anyway, the costs of the state visit including accommodation, transport and food is covered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
So, that it in a nutshell. A state visit is just a big welcome party. If you want to more (and I am guessing you do) I previously blogged about state visits/banquets, in precise and poignant detail here. Happy reading.