President Trump's recent state visits to the UK have been very controversial. Controversy is not, however, a new phenomenon: in the second half of the twentieth century, British state visits were also much debated and politicised. Elizabeth II visited not only former enemies but also embarked on state visits to India and Pakistan in 1961 – the first since independence and partition – with the explicit aim of strengthening the post-war Commonwealth. What is more, during the 1960s, the Foreign Office even discussed a state visit to the Soviet Union. The paper presents a short history of British twentieth-century state visits and highlights how these diplomatic events were used as political tools by UK governments and how the "apolitical" monarchy was politicised through them.
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