Trump U.K. State Visit Plans Put Queen in "Very Difficult Position"

A former U.K. Foreign Office official speaks out about the first invitation extended to a U.S. president during the first year in the White House as protesters take to the streets across the U.K.

While many of the anti-Trump protests worldwide over the past couple of days have focused on the plight of refugees and those from the seven countries covered by the U.S. president's visa ban, the British monarch has also been dragged into the argument. 

According to Peter Ricketts, a former permanent under-secretary at the U.K. Foreign Office, Trump's proposed official state visit to the U.K. – a petition against which has already racked up more than 1.6 million signatures – will put Queen Elizabeth II in a "very difficult position."

In a letter to The Times, Ricketts argued that the state visit invitation, which was issued by Prime Minister Theresa May on behalf of the Queen, had come too soon, before Trump had settled into his presidency and amid major protests against his early policies. 

"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," Ricketts said. "Now the Queen is put in a very difficult position."

No president has ever been given a state visit to the U.K. – which usually entails tea with the Queen and a state banquet at Buckingham Palace – in his first year in the White House. It was 28 months before Barack Obama made a state visit, and for George W. Bush, it was 32 months. 

"The best solution would be to downgrade the visit to an official visit and put back the state visit for a time," Ricketts suggested to BBC radio. 

Meanwhile, Trump's travel ban sparked demonstrations in major cities across the U.K. on Monday. In London, traffic was brought to a standstill outside Downing Street as thousands took to the streets.

Demonstrations also took place in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and other cities and towns.

Georg Szalai contributed to this report.