When US president Donald Trump visited Britain in 2018 and met Queen Elizabeth, he caused a social media stir by walking in front of the British monarch as they inspected her honour guard, forcing her to step around him – a breach of protocol.
On Thursday, a day after his first state visit to Britain ended, he raved in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham that he had developed a deep bond with the queen and that she had been very taken with him.
"There are those that say they have never seen the queen have a better time, a more animated time," Mr Trump said in the interview, which was taped in Normandy, France, in front of the graves of fallen troops on the 75th anniversary of the Allied landing.
“We had a period where we were talking solid straight,” he said. “I didn’t even know who the other people at the table were. I never spoke to them; we just had a great time.”
He said: “The meeting with the queen was incredible, I think I can say I really got to know her because I sat with her many times and we had automatic chemistry, you will understand that feeling.
“It’s a good feeling. But she’s a spectacular woman.”
A day earlier, while sitting with French president Emmanuel Macron, Mr Trump called the queen “an incredible lady,” adding, “I feel I know her so well right now, and she certainly knows me well.”
On Friday, Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Mr Trump's remarks. The queen (93), the world's longest-reigning monarch, has met every American president since Harry Truman, except for Lyndon B Johnson. And for all his appeals to populism as political rocket fuel, Mr Trump has long craved the respect and approval of global figures and cultural icons, including the British royal family, even as his desire to boast about his meeting with royalty was at odds with some of his harsh rhetoric at rallies.
For his state visit, he brought along not only the first lady, Melania Trump, but also his four adult children. During last year’s trip, which was downgraded from an official state visit, Mr Trump had tea with the queen at Windsor Castle. This time, even as Britons hit the streets in protest with a giant Trump balloon, the US president was feted at a lavish state dinner at Buckingham Palace, where he sat to the right of the queen at the horseshoe-shape table, and they exchanged toasts.
She noted the president's Scottish ancestry on his mother's side and said that Britain and the United States were "bound by the strength and breadth" of their economic ties.
Addressing Mr Trump, she said: “Mr President, as we look to the future, I’m confident that our common values and shared interests will continue to unite us.” She also pointedly spoke of the multilateral institutions that Britain and the United States helped to create after the second World War to prevent another war – institutions, like Nato, that Mr Trump has denigrated.
“While the world has changed,” the queen said, “we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures.”
On Wednesday, Mr Trump left for Ireland, where he owns a golf club in Doonbeg, Co Clare, and met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. He reassured Mr Varadkar that Britain's exit from the European Union would "work out very well," including for Ireland, "with your wall, your border."
He also praised Mr Varadkar as doing a “fantastic” job and said that Ireland was “one of the leading countries in terms of people moving and living in the United States.”
“We have millions of Irish. And I think I know most of them because they’re my friends,” he said. “We love the Irish.”–New York Times/PA