Much planning goes into the preparation of a state visit, from the seating plan at the state dinner to the colour of the flower arrangements. However, a common Twitter strategy does not seem to be part of it, judging from the cacophony of the UK government accounts during Donald Trump’s visit to the UK.
While the British accounts clearly settled on a common hashtag #USStateVisit, they differed markedly in how to address the most powerful and most followed world leader on Twitter. The @realDonaldTrump handle is still considered as the personal campaign account and not the official presidential account. The UK royal accounts never mentioned the @realDonaldTrump and indeed, appeared to even avoid mentioning the first and last names of the U.S. President on Twitter. Instead the @RoyalFamily welcomed “@POTUS and @FLOTUS to Buckingham Palace”, referring to the couple as “The President and Mrs Trump”.
This is a dramatic contrast to how the royal Twitter feed addressed the U.S. President’s predecessor whose personal campaign account @BarackObama was used by the royals during Barack Obama’s visit in April 2016. Ditto for the @ClarenceHouse and @KensingtonRoyal accounts which never mentioned the @realDonaldTrump, but consistently used the personal account of @BarackObama while he was in office.
During this week’s #USStateVisit @ClarenceHouse, managed by Prince Charles and Camilla, decided to mention “President Trump and the First Lady” without adding any Twitter handles, while his brother, the @TheDukeOfYork, referenced “President Donald Trump @POTUS” which is technically redundant.
The @KensingtonRoyal account of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, managed to avoid any mention of the American guest altogether. The couple did not even share a picture of Donald Trump and Melania on Twitter.
The @10DowningStreet account opted for “@POTUS Donald Trump”. In the past the official account of the UK Prime Minister has only once mentioned the @realDonaldTrump handle (to congratulate him on his election in November 2016) but has often referenced @BarackObama under the government of David Cameron.
Only the UK @ForeignOffice and Foreign Secretary @Jeremy_Hunt mentioned the @realDonaldTrump Twitter handle in their tweets to welcome the U.S. President. Hunt even mentioned the personal account of @MelaniaTrump which she rarely uses.
— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) June 3, 2019
The visit of the U.S. President has shown that world leaders are still uneasy with the undiplomatic use of Twitter by the U.S. President and still don’t accept the @realDonaldTrump as a respected equal.