The British public and press did not appear amused with President Donald Trump walking in front of Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, with one royal commentator describing the awkward stroll as reminiscent of “wandering up and down a golf course.”
Trump’s move sparked criticism on social media after momentarily walking in front of the Queen during a reviewing of the troops at Windsor Castle, and generated headlines for British digital outlets.
In the encounter, Elizabeth appears to gesture Trump forward before he walks ahead and promptly puts on the brakes — forcing the monarch to do an awkward sidestep around him. BBC journalist Sattar Saeedi posted a video showing the lesson.
But Trump’s move to walk in front of the Queen didn’t technically break royal protocol, according to royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams.
That said, Trump still looked like he “might as well have been wandering up and down a golf course,” Fitzwilliams told CNN.
Fitzwilliams said the confusion “gave the impression of dis-coordination,” adding, “It proves he (Trump) doesn’t bother to rehearse, because the thinks he doesn’t need to.”
On social media, the reaction was incredulous. “Did Donald Trump just WALK IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN?!?!?!” Halla Mohieddeen, a presenter on Scotland’s STV, wrote on Twitter. T. Dorje posted, “Good grief. Queen Elizabeth pointed to the ground to show Trump where to walk and yet he still stepped and walked in front of her.”
Nonetheless, Trump and first lady Melania Trump appeared to follow the Queen’s lead during the visit. The couple shook her hand, rather than bowing or curtsying, but only after Elizabeth offered her hand first.
“The Queen doesn’t expect people to bow to her, though many choose to anyway,” CNN royal correspondent Max Foster said.
And while the Queen appeared to inspect her watch while waiting for the Trumps, they were not late, arriving at 5 p.m. on the dot.
Then-first lady Michelle Obama famously broke protocol when she put her arm around the Queen in 2009 — not that Elizabeth appeared to mind.
Trump is the 12th US President the Queen has met during her reign.