The wedding of Great Britain’s Prince Harry and America’s Meghan Markle this Saturday is a “huge positive” and a symbol of the historic special relationship between the two nations.
So says Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation, who agreed to answer The Daily Signal’s questions about the state of the U.S.-U.K. alliance, some details of the royal wedding, and President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit. The transcript that follows was edited for clarity and length.
Ginny Montalbano: How do you see the U.S.-U.K. alliance under the Trump administration so far?
Nile Gardiner: I think overall the current state of the special relationship is very strong. And so the interaction between the British government and the U.S. administration at the moment is very close-knit.
I would say that it’s stronger today than it was under the Obama administration, when there were significantly more tensions and disagreements between the two sides. And a good example of that was the Obama administration’s lack of support for Britain over the Falklands issue against a backdrop of Argentine aggression.
Right now the special relationship is in very good health. You have a U.S. administration that is very pro-British, is very pro-Brexit, that is strong in favor of a U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement, and works incredibly closely with the British government in every area.
Montalbano: Sort of unexpectedly, President Trump has struck up a great dynamic with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. Has that dynamic affected our relationship with the U.K.?
Gardiner: I don’t really think that the recent state visit by the French president makes any difference in terms of the U.S. relationship with Britain. Clearly, Emmanuel Macron has launched a charm offensive in Washington.
But the reality remains that as much as the French aspire to their own special relationship with Great Britain, there is only one special relationship, and that is between the United States and the United Kingdom.
France, of course, is an important ally of the United States, but the strength of the bond between the United States and the United Kingdom is far, far deeper.
I would say that unquestionably today America’s most important ally on the world stage remains Great Britain. When you look at the U.S.-French partnership … there’s a lot of disagreement between the two sides on a wide variety of policy areas. And I think ideologically Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump are worlds apart.
So while they have struck a good working relationship, the worldviews of Macron and Trump are very, very different. There’s more synergy, I think, between the foreign policy of U.S. administration and Great Britain right now than there is between the U.S. and France.
Montalbano: The royal wedding is coming up. Meghan Markle, who is 36, is older than Prince Harry, who is 33. She’s American, biracial, and divorced. What are the implications of this American actress marrying into the royal family?
Gardiner: You have an American marrying into the royal family for the first time certainly since the days of Edward and Mrs. Simpson. This is highly significant, because this will undoubtedly strengthen the bond between the United States and the United Kingdom, the two most important defenders of freedom on the world stage.
With an American marrying into the royal family, that can only be a huge positive for the royal family and for the U.S.-U.K. relationship. I think Meghan Markle will be very warmly welcomed by the royal family and by the British people, and I think she already has been.
I have no doubt that she and Prince Harry will be tremendous representatives for the royal family, not only in Britain but across the world.