The Queen does not troll, not even Trump – the supposed #broochwarfare

The Queen does not troll, not even Trump – the supposed #broochwarfare

I’m declaring #fakenews on the ‘story’ Queen Elizabeth trolled Trump with her brooches during the President’s visit to the UK. She would never be that unprofessional, and wearing the palm leaf brooch was completely in line with the Queen’s manual on how to wear jewellery: it honoured Trump’s Scottish roots.

Twitter user @SamuraiKnitter made headlines worldwide with her theories - summarised as #broochwarfare - regarding the Queen’s brooches during Trump’s visit. It’s a known recipe by now: craft a story everyone wants to read during a worldwide publicized event and the media will pick up on it, never mind the veracity of the claims. In short, the Queen would have expressed her dislike of nr. 45 by wearing, on his day of arrival, a brooch the Obamas gave her, by wearing a ‘mourning’ brooch during the meeting with the President and a snowflake-shaped brooch given by Canada on his day of departure.
By now her analysis is well refuted, but in general two factors are overlooked: such political messaging would go wildly beyond the Queen's constitutional reach and sense of professionalism, and the palm leaf brooch actually refers to Scotland. So I’m adding my own two cents regarding the basic understanding of the position of the monarch, the monarch’s usage of jewels and history of design.

Not a politician
The Queen is not a politician, but a constitutional monarch: a non-party political head of state restricted in her role by the constitution. Which means she cannot, and will express opinions about anything political, not even 'silently' by way of brooches: it is simply not her business. The monarch, and possibly even the monarchy itself, could survive one such a glitch, but not three. Being host to other heads of state on behalf of the nation is one of her most important roles. So when the Prime Minister of the UK extends an invitation to the head of state of a friendly nation, which Trump still is, the Queen will be, and has always been, the perfect host.
As Queen Margrethe of Denmark once pointed out: when you host a guest on behalf of the country, you bring your best. And often this aspect involves jewellery as well: either by wearing a gift from the visiting nation, or by making a reference specific to the guest. While the brooch the Obama’s gave her is too informal for the official meeting, if the Queen wanted to insult Trump, she would have worn this brooch in Windsor Castle, given Trump’s profound and well-known dislike for the Obamas. But subtly insulting guests of the state is not her duty. Instead she wore the palm leaf brooch, which indeed was worn by the Queen and her mother during family funerals, because the shape resembles a tear, and to her mother's funeral because, well, the brooch was her mother's possession, and because of the Scottish reference.  

The Scottish connection
In the 19th century the Scottish town of Paisley was the international centre of shawl production featuring the pattern visible in the brooch, which is how the motif got its current, Western name . So it is a completely logical choice for a visiting President with a background (only) in business and whose mother hailed from Scotland (just like the Queen's mother). This thought pattern is precisely in line with how the Queen uses jewellery; it is how she has always done it. At age 92 the Queen – who is globally acclaimed for her professional ethics – would not suddenly show a change in this, and if she were to go rogue, she would clearly not be fit for her duty and the time for Prince Charles to be appointed as regent would have arrived.

The Obama’s & Canada
The visit by the Trumps was rather unusual, in the sense that during a normal visit by the President of the United States, the Queen would have accompanied her guests on all days. But this was, due to the huge controversies regarding nr. 45 and the protests in the UK against this visit, a dressed down version - downgraded from State to Official Visit - with only one meeting, and not even on the first day, with the Queen in her private residence Windsor Castle, not in the official hosting venue Buckingham Palace. By wearing the brooch the Obama’s gave her on Trump’s day of arrival, she acknowledged his presence in the country, even though she did not meet him. And she expressed the longstanding relations between the two countries by wearing a present from Trump’s predecessor, as is normal behaviour for a Queen. By wearing the brooch given by Canada for her Sapphire Jubilee on the third day of the US visit, she drew attention to the fact that she is the monarch of Canada as well. And even though the Queen was not acting in that capacity on that day, and the relationship between the US and Canada is far from smooth at the moment (neither are the US-UK relations), they still are friendly countries maintaining normal diplomatic relations.  

Posted on 22/07/2018 by Erik Schoonhoven