Theresa May has given a very political gift to Donald Trump on his first official state visit to the UK: A copy of one of the key documents in the history of the “special relationship” between Britain and the US.
The Prime Minister has presented President Trump with a framed typescript draft of the Atlantic Charter, a joint policy statement made by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on August 14, 1941.
The gift has raised eyebrows in Whitehall, as it highlights the shared history of the United States and United Kingdom as global allies, after Trump rejected the idea of globalism.
At The UN Assembly’s annual General Debate in September last year, he said: “America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination.”
May has been keen to stress the importance of the two countries’ shared histories as the UK government seeks a trade deal with the States post-Brexit. The document also stressed the importance of economic cooperation in terms of securing lasting peace.
Nato could also be seen to be one of a number of institutions inspired by the charter. Trump has been vocal in his criticism of Nato, complaining that the US is having to bear the lion’s share of the cost.
The two leaders attended a state banquet hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, on Monday night, ahead of holding bilateral talks and a joint press conference on Tuesday.
The Atlantic Charter was broadcast as a statement from Naval Station Argentia in Newfoundland, following a meeting of the two heads of state, and set out their shared ambitions for the post-war world. It was one of the first steps towards the formation of the United Nations.
The declaration of the United Nations, signed by 26 nations in 1942, and later adhered to by others, pledged to abide by the principles of the Atlantic Charter.
It stated that the two leaders “deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”
With the permission of Churchill’s family, the framed Charter given to Trump is a copy of his personal draft with his amendments in red pencil. There were no further amendments made to the Charter, and Churchill kept the draft on his wall as a reminder.
Theresa and Phillip May have given Melania Trump a bespoke Number 10 tea set, created by the British designer Emma Bridgewater.
A spokesperson for the prime minister said the gift reflected the D-Day commemorations on Wednesday, adding: “The United Kingdom and the United States have stood together as allies, and the prime minister is looking forward to those relations between our two countries to continue to deepen.”
Theresa May previously gave a bold statement on joint UK-US foreign policy in a speech to Republican policymakers in Philadelphia January 2017, saying that the “days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over”.
While she signaled support some foreign policy positions taken by Trump during his administration, she used the speech to caution him others, warning the President that he should “engage but beware” of Putin and Russia.
The gift is a departure from previous tokens presented to Trump from May. On her visit to the White House, the prime minster gave Trump a quaich, a traditional Scottish cup that symbolises of friendship, in a nod to his Scottish heritage.
On the same visit, Melania Trump was gifted hamper of British goods, including Bakewell Tarts, apple juice, damson jam and marmalade, from the prime minister’s country residence at Chequers.
In return, Trump gave May a framed picture of Abraham Lincoln swearing the Oath of Office on the same copy of the Bible used by Trump at his own inauguration, and Melania gifted a pair of silver cufflinks by New York designer David Yurman to Phillip May.
On Trump’s previous visit to the UK last July, May continued the Scottish theme, gifting the US President an illustrated ancestral chart, detailing his Scottish heritage, which was compiled from official records and old parish registers. Melania Trump was given a bottle of bespoke perfume made by J. Floris, engraved with her initials.
Gifts between the country leaders have drawn criticism in the past. Barack Obama was said to have put little thought into his gift of 25 DVDs of American films for former British prime minister Gordon Brown.
Brown presented Obama with a pen and holder carved from an anti-slavery sister ship of HMS Resolute, wood from which was used to make the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, and biographies of Winston Churchill, reportedly worth more than $16,500.
Brown reportedly rejected a gift from President Bush the previous year – a fur-trimmed leather bomber jacket bearing the president’s logo.
Hannah Al-Othman is a political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Hannah Al-Othman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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