Phobias and foibles of visiting dignitaries are often factored in, but officials in Whitehall preparing for a visit by President Donald Trump are taking it one step at a time: staircases, railings and slopes may be ruled out for the world’s most powerful man.
Trump’s visit has already caused some waves here. Indications are that he will come calling in October, though no dates have been finalised yet. By then, Britain will be through the June 8 election, a new government will be in place, and Brexit talks will be on in Brussels.
But given Trump’s known phobia of steps, railings and slopes - also reported by the US news media - officials are already discussing ways to keep him away from such pitfalls during the visit, according to The Sunday Times.
Trump, who has large business interests in Scotland, including a golf course, is expected to be honoured with a state dinner in Buckingham Palace. The visit is also likely to include time in Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish retreat Balmoral.
An official in step with arranging Trump’s visit told the paper: “I’ve heard this discussed in meetings about the state visit. People want everything to go smoothly. Trump won’t be able to avoid the stairs at the palace but they can plan things to minimise it.”
A petition to stop his visit since it would cause embarrassment to the Queen has gained over 1.86 million signatures, but the Theresa May government said he should be extended the full courtesy of a state visit.
One of the most seen images of May’s visit to the US in January was of Trump holding her hand as they walked through a ramp in the White House. His dislike for steps and stairs has reportedly been raised in meetings to prepare for the visit.
A Trump visit here has already raised hackles, particularly due to his comments during the US election campaign that parts of London were so radicalised that they were ‘no-go’ areas for the police. His ban on the entry of citizens from some countries further infuriated many.