Trump UK visit: Downing Street accused of sexism over Theresa May's gifts for president and Melania

The president received a historical document drawn up by his hero Churchill, while his wife was given a tea-set

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Tuesday 04 June 2019 08:10 BST
The Queen shows Donald Trump and Melania the items and artworks from the Royal Collection

Downing Street faced accusations of “lazy sexism” after Theresa May gave Donald Trump the gift of a historical artefact recalling the Second World War alliance of their nations, while his wife Melania received a tea set.

Mr Trump’s gift from the prime minister was a framed typescript draft of the Atlantic Charter agreed by their predecessors, President Franklin Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill, in 1941.

The president is a great admirer of Churchill and moved a bust of the wartime leader back into the Oval Office as one of his first actions on entering the White House.

Meanwhile, Ms Trump’s present was a bespoke No 10 tea set, created by British designer Emma Bridgewater.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said that both gifts had been carefully chosen and the tea set was “a memento of a visit to No 10 as part of what we hope will be a successful state visit”.

But Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson described the tea-set choice as patronising, while shadow equalities secretary Dawn Butler said it portrayed an outdated view of gender roles.

“Theresa May has once again been exposed for her outdated belief that there are ‘boys roles’ and ‘girls roles’,” Ms Butler said.

“Melania, as well as being first lady, is a successful and independent businesswoman in her own right, and deserves a more meaningful and thoughtful gift, especially given her Yugoslavian heritage which is historic and noteworthy.

“Besides, Melania is married to one of the most divisive and unpleasant men in modern history – so at the very least she will need something stronger than tea.”

Ms Swinson said: “While we should be relieved at there being at least one civilised thing in the White House, it does seem patronising that President Trump, despite all evidence to the contrary, is treated like a student of history while his wife gets the kind of present people used to give schoolgirls.”

And Women’s Equality Party spokeswoman Harini Iyengar said: “Like the state visit itself, these gifts are inappropriate. Giving Melania Trump – a businesswoman and entrepreneur who can speak four languages – a tea set is lazy sexism. It is hard to imagine Bill Clinton being offered a tea set – or perhaps a nice pinny – if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election.”

The Charter given to Mr Trump is a copy of Churchill’s personal draft from 12 August 1941, with his amendments in red pencil.

Setting out Churchill and Roosevelt’s goals for a post-war world, it was one of the first steps towards the formation of the United Nations. Churchill kept the draft on his wall as a reminder.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump was caught out during a tour of Buckingham Palace’s picture gallery, when he failed to recognise an artwork which he had himself presented to the Queen a year ago.

The president and first lady were shown by the Queen around an exhibition of American artefacts, items reflecting Mr Trump’s Scottish heritage and love of golf, and documents and photos relating to royal visits to the US.

But when they came across a statue of a thoroughbred horse in polished pewter, the US leader did not recall having given it to the monarch when he had tea with her at Windsor Castle last July.

The director of the Royal Collection, Tim Knox, said that when Mr Trump was asked if he recognised it, he said “no” but “the first lady did recognise it, which is rather nice”.

Mr Knox joked: “But one horse looks very much like another.”

The Queen’s official gifts to Mr Trump were a first edition of Churchill’s The Second World War from 1959 and a three-piece pen set with EIIR cypher.

During his visit to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday, Mr Trump will be shown the Sussex Declaration, which is a rare copy of the American Declaration of Independence drawn up on sheepskin parchment in the 1780s.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in