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Trump’s Relationship With the Royal Family Dates Back to His Mother

One of President Trump’s earliest memories, one he routinely recounts to journalists and biographers, is of watching his mother watch television, so enthralled that she barely moved for hours, on the day in 1953 that Queen Elizabeth was crowned.

He was only 6 years old, but he understood that the gilded spectacle unfolding more than 3,400 miles away inside Westminster Abbey struck a chord in his mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, a poor girl who had immigrated from Scotland and who had worked for a time as a housemaid in a grand mansion. He also understood that, for some reason, the same spectacle offended his father.

“I also remember my father that day, pacing around impatiently, ‘For Christ’s sake, Mary,’ he said, ‘enough is enough, turn it off. They’re all a bunch of con artists,’ ” Mr. Trump recalled, years later. “My mother didn’t even look up. They were total opposites in that sense.”


Mr. Trump tells this story in his book “The Art of the Deal” as an explanation for why he was not satisfied with simply inheriting his father’s business. His mother had passed on a love of spectacle and grandeur, as expressed in the coronation — “loftier dreams” of “splendor and magnificence.”

The story also explains why this week’s visit to Britain matters to the president, who throughout his life has expressed a desire to be close to, or on an equal footing with, the British royal family. Though Mr. Trump met the queen for tea at Windsor Castle last year, the event was marred by a gaffe when he walked ahead of her while reviewing troops, and it lacked the pageantry of a state dinner at Buckingham Palace.

“This is more important than any piece of legislation he could get through Congress, greater than resolving problems at the border with Mexico,” said Michael D’Antonio, the author of “The Truth About Trump,” a 2016 biography.“I would think one of his dying thoughts will be of this.

When he is about to leave this earth, he will think, ‘I was that person, standing with the queen.’ ”

Mr. Trump likes to declare that he does not respect most people, because “most people are not worthy of respect,” said Mr. D’Antonio, who said that he interviewed Mr. Trump for about eight hours.

“The queen may be one of the only people on Earth who could expect he was going to be respectful,” he said. “It is sincere. He is as sincere as he can be about anything with this respect.”


Mr. Trump arrived in London on Monday morning, bringing turbulence with him. He is a deeply polarizing figure in Britain, with 67 percent of respondents in a recent YouGov poll reporting negative opinions of him, and only 21 percent reporting approval.

An outspoken proponent of a hard Brexit, he has already brushed aside any pretense of diplomacy, giving interviews to The Sun and The Times of London, endorsing Boris Johnson’s campaign to succeed Theresa May, and describing the Duchess of Sussex, also known as Meghan Markle, in an answer to an interviewer’s question, as “nasty” for speaking critically of him in 2016.

But the royal family has plenty of experience hosting contentious figures, said Andrew Morton, the author of several royal biographies. The queen is expected to remain neutral on political matters, so she will steer clear of divisive topics.

“They tend not to take a view, or try not to,” Mr. Morton said.

But in some cases, he added, “they take the view that they can influence things.” Prince Charles, for example, may try to influence Mr. Trump on the issue of climate change, Mr. Morton said, adding that the prince has the power to extend invitations to the next coronation.

Thomas Wright, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that in the past, private conversations with “iconic individuals” have made an impression on Mr. Trump’s thinking.

“If the queen says something to him, he might take it to heart,” he said. “He would probably tell everyone about it.”

In a sense, it is curious that Mr. Trump’s mother, born Mary Anne MacLeod, was such a royalist.

Her forbears had been impoverished and evicted from their farms in a land grab by English-backed Scottish lords, known as the Highland Clearances, writes Nina Burleigh in “Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump’s Women.”


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