WINDSOR, England — And then, after all the diplomatic tumult, it was time to sip tea with the queen.
President Donald Trump took a break from his sparring with U.S. allies and the press on Friday to enjoy one of diplomacy's oldest traditions.
The president and first lady Melania Trump were delivered by chauffeured Range Rover at early evening Friday to the courtyard of Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II was awaiting them under a canopy on a dais — far from the anti-Trump protesters demonstrating across London.
There were handshakes all around, and then the threesome stood side-by-side as a military band played the American national anthem. With the queen in the middle, the Trumps seemed to tower over the monarch, who stands roughly 5-foot-3. The president is about 6-foot-2, and Mrs. Trump is near that in her spiky heels.
The first lady wore a pale pink two-piece ensemble with her hair pulled back for the occasion; the queen was in a blue coat.
The president and queen then broke off to review the troops, walking slowly past a line of Coldstream Guards wearing traditional bearskin hats.
While Trump typically likes to take the lead, he appeared to followed the queen's direction, adjusting his pace to hers. Her gait has slowed over the years and she walks slowly and carefully.
The Trumps and the queen were scheduled to spend about 30 minutes getting acquainted over tea inside the castle but the visit stretched past 45 minutes.
Trump has talked at length about the royal family over the years.
He told The Sun newspaper before his arrival that he was looking forward to the visit, complimenting the queen and marveling at the lack of controversy associated with her over the years.
"She is a tremendous woman. I really look forward to meeting her. I think she represents her country so well," he said, adding: "If you think of it, for so many years she has represented her country, she has really never made a mistake. You don't see, like, anything embarrassing. She is just an incredible woman."
He also talked about how his mother, who was born in Scotland, loved the royal family and all things pomp and pageantry.
"My mother loved the queen. Any time the queen was on television, my mother wanted to watch it," said Trump.
Elizabeth has now met every U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower with the exception of Lyndon Johnson, who did not visit England while in office.
One of her favorite guests was probably Ronald Reagan, who shared her passion for horses and went for a ride with the queen on the magnificent grounds surrounding the castle.