The special relationship is on the rocks. Passion always waxes and wanes but it looks like we might be careering towards full-on heartbreak: Donald Trump has stropped out of his planned visit to London next month, claiming a new, state-of-the art billion dollar US Embassy is a monstrous slight; duly, Theresa May has gone, cringing, to Davos to clasp the President’s adipose hand while whispering sweet nothings (probably literally) about UK-US trade. She’ll be hoping Trump will forgive her after that lovers’ tiff in November, when he retweeted videos by the far-Right group Britain First, and she observed he should stop. The course of true love never did run smooth.
Geopolitically, we’d be advised to have a rebound primed, then. Meanwhile the rest of us hope for something more — a real love story, not the transactional tryst connoted by the “special relationship”.
Trust an Obama to save us. This weekend, we were reassured to learn that 19-year-old Harvard student Malia Obama is still dating British boyfriend, Rory Farquharson, also 19, and also a Harvard student. The pair were seen wandering around New York— a hot date when you’re 19.
Besides their elite education, the couple (Ralia? Mory?) share a familiarity with high office: Farquharson is a former head boy at Rugby School. A classmate has called him “quite a catch”, which in this context is semaphore for smart, posh and well-connected. The pair were first spotted at a Harvard-Yale American football match in November; the new sighting confirms both are tall and like puffer coats.
This also means Obama has joined the whip-smart American women who’ve fallen for proverbial floppy-haired, English public schoolboys (note Farquharson’s blond hair hangs, exquisitely, over one eye). Her good company includes Meghan Markle who is marrying an old Etonian. What’s more, in the sort of six degrees of separation endemic in posh quarters, it transpires that Farqhaurson and the Prince have met, sort of: both appeared in a video broadcast at the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony in 2015.
The American fetish for the sort of men Britain ridicules is well-documented. It is an entire sub-plot in Love Actually, in which “lonely, ugly a***hole” Colin goes to the US and finds himself a harem of women, seduced by the way he says “bottle”.
Colin isn’t quite Hugh Grant but all he needed was a middle-class accent to seal the deal. The obsession with posh boys is also — anecdotally, misogynistically — cited as a reason that there are so many Americans studying at St Andrews.
While British women find the mannerisms irritating and single-sex schooling weird, Americans find these endearing and edifying respectively.
American men are straightforward; by comparison, posh English boys seem mysterious. In the US, they’re fascinated by the rituals, by Downton Abbey and the royals. Plus, the sunny American disposition is well-suited to the earnestness of the public schoolboy.
It may be the end of the affair for the special relationship — but elsewhere, Anglo-US relations are as passionate as ever.