President Donald Trump’s visit to royal England is captivating the British as much as Americans, as Queen Elizabeth extends official state honors to him and his family. This is only the third time during her 67-year reign that Queen Elizabeth has welcomed an American president with such honors.
More than 150 participated in the royal feast with the Queen and the American president on Monday night. Despite all the overheated rhetoric against Trump, very few dignitaries declined to attend this fete epitomizing the Anglo-American tradition.
Dinner guests were seated precisely 18 inches from each other, and the royal family was adorned with their finest jewelry. Princess Diana’s son Harry, caught in an awkward spot between his anti-Trump American wife Meghan and the British tradition of cordiality, participated earlier that day.
The underlying politics marks a turning point for Great Britain, which is in the throes of division about its future. A majority want independence, as reflected by their vote in 2016 for Britain to exit Europe (“Brexit”), while a vocal minority want to be citizens of Europe.
This conflict is on display as one of Britain’s most famous entertainers of the last half-century, the Monty Python comedian John Cleese, criticized the loss in English identity. He tweeted last week that “some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more.”
Cleese continued, “Since then, virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation. So there must be some truth in it.”
For that, the internet erupted among those who demand political correctness, falsely accusing Cleese of being racist. But Cleese stood his ground, observing that “it’s legitimate to prefer one culture to another.”
Cleese is an icon of British humor, perhaps best known for his Monty Python skit “The Ministry of Silly Walks.” In it he portrays a government worker in charge of approving grants to develop silly walks, and Cleese’s own hilarious way of walking to his job caused fans to urge him to reprise his silly walk throughout his career.
But his criticism of the wrong turn taken by London is not silly at all, and is proven by many statistics. For example, last year the murder rate in London increased to its highest level this decade, often by gruesome stabbings and including at least one shocking murder by machete.
Cleese, though not known to be generally conservative, explained what London has become. “I suspect I should apologise for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing, but in some ways I found it calmer, more polite, more humorous, less tabloid, and less money-oriented than the one that is replacing it.”
The anti-Trump mayor of London who skipped the gala for Trump at Buckingham Palace, Sadiq Khan, predictably criticized Cleese’s comments. “Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength. We are proudly the English capital, a European city and a global hub.”
But the London Mayor Khan went further in his personal attacks on Trump on the eve of his visit at the invitation of the Queen. Khan’s harsh rhetoric seemed contrary to the British tradition of genteel hospitality.
Mayor Khan published a strident newspaper article two days before Trump arrived, under the headline “It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump.” Khan even insisted that Trump somehow “flies in the face of the ideals America was founded upon.”
Not content with those attacks on our American President, London Mayor Khan next did a video in which he insisted that Trump’s policies would somehow make women second-class citizens. Khan apparently supports legalized abortion, and asserted that Trump would cause women to have back-alley abortions.
Confronted with these potshots by the unleashed London mayor, Trump returned the favor by tweeting against Khan as Trump arrived in England. Trump compared Khan to the disastrous mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and a greater insult is difficult to imagine.
Trump invites Britain to complete its exit from Europe without cutting any deals with the mainland, and instead look for future trade agreements with its longest ally, the United States. Trump-supporting Boris Johnson, who is the presumptive replacement of Theresa May as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, agrees with Trump that a “no deal Brexit” is the best approach.
“We will leave the [European Union] on 31 October, deal or no deal,” Johnson has declared. “The way to get a good deal is to prepare for a no deal.”
Europe’s loss can be America’s gain. A Great Britain under the conservative, Trump-like leadership of Boris Johnson can help revive that country and enable them to afford more of their share for military defense.
Trump properly embraces English culture rather than apologizing for it. So should British royalty and all of England.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.