No, the Royal Family Isn't Taking a Stand Against the Trump Administration

Caroline Hallemann
Photo credit: CHRIS JACKSON - Getty Images

From Town & Country

Members of the British royal family are some of the most recognizable figures in the world, and yet, the public doesn't really know much about their personal lives.

Intimate details about their relationships and opinions are kept private, so fans look to their clothes, their body language, any break in the carefully crafted facade for even a hint of what's going on behind closed doors. And when it comes to the royals' views on politics, and more specifically the Trump administration, people often see what they want to see, sometimes going so far as to fabricate meaning where there is none.

Take, for example, the recent viral tweets of Prince Charles "snubbing" US Vice President Mike Pence. A video taken during the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem just a few days ago shows the Prince of Wales moving down a receiving line and seemingly denying the Vice President a handshake while looking him in the eye.

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Given Pence's abhorrent views on gay rights and other issues, I understand why people root for Prince Charles to reject the VP publicly. The royals also have a long and complicated history with Pence's boss, Donald Trump, and yes, the interaction did look a bit awkward.

But even all that said, I'm fairly confident that Prince Charles didn't purposefully snub Pence. It's impossible to be entirely certain of a person's motivations, but it's highly unlikely that the royal would blatantly dismiss another country's political leader in front of cameras and a crowd. He's too experienced, and too savvy for that.

As White House reporter Ashley Parker explained in the wake of the viral video, Prince Charles and Pence had previously had a brief meeting at Yad Vashem, and after Pence spoke, the pair shook hands. There is no feud.

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But this is hardly the first time a story about a royal "shading" someone in the Trump administration has taken off on social media.

Just last month, a similar clip of Princess Anne "snubbing" Trump during a NATO reception at Buckingham Palace racked up the retweets. In that video, the Queen and Prince Charles greet the President and First Lady. Then, the Queen looks back at Princess Anne, who shrugs.

Twitter, perhaps drunk on a new appreciation for the Queen's daughter and her no-nonsense demeanor following the third season of The Crown, immediately jumped to the conclusion that Anne didn't want to meet Trump, and that the Queen was scolding her for refusing to.

Even news outlets got in on the speculation. Sky News questioned, "Is Princess Anne in trouble?"

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Guardian writer Hannah Jane Parkinson wrote, "The Queen chastising Princess Anne for not greeting Trump and Anne not giving a single shit is the mood we all need to take into today."

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The story of what really happened is somewhat less interesting and certainly less incendiary.

"The Queen, after greeting the Donald (and the Melania), turned to Anne to see who was next. But there wasn't anyone waiting: Trump was the last leader to be received by the Queen," wrote royal reporter Valentine Low on Twitter.

"Anne raised her hands in the air, laughed and said: 'It's just me,' adding a moment later 'and this lot' as she pointed to the members of the household behind her."

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Following the Princess Anne incident, journalist Michelle Ruiz coined the phrase "the myth of royal resistance."

"It’s tempting to believe [Trump] isn’t being received with open arms on the world stage and by the British royals we revere almost as our own, no less," she wrote for Vogue.

But "characterizing the royals as being subtly rude to the Trumps fundamentally misunderstands who they are as a family and as an institution. These are people who live and die by decorum!"

That description perhaps goes double for the Queen, but the British monarch has also been accused of trolling Trump with her jewelry multiple times.

At last June's state banquet, she wore a ruby tiara with stones that symbolize protection from illness and evil. People on social media took that fact and ran, suggesting that the Queen chose her jewels to send a coded message about the American President.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

And back in 2018, viral tweets declared that the Queen was taunting Trump by wearing a brooch that President Obama had given her. These assertions are not only unlikely, they're practically inconceivable.

"The Queen often uses her brooches to make statements, but like everything else she does, those statements are diplomatic. Jewels are used as a gesture of acknowledgment, not insult; they're used to build and reinforce bridges, not burn them down," royal jewelery historian Ella Kay wrote on her blog, the Court Jeweller at the time.

That brooch represents the ties between the US and the UK. And the tiara from the state banquet? It was more likely chosen for it's red hue, which alongside the Queen's white dress and blue sash, nodded to the colors of both the American and British flags.

The royals take their diplomatic role—particularly as the UK approaches Brexit—too seriously to be that petty; stability, and political neutrality, are at the core of what the institution of the monarchy represents in 2020.

And given the drama in their own backyard recently, it's unreasonable to think that they would choose to ignite a controversy on the world stage so willingly.

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