One of the (many) oddities about state visits is the custom of exchanging gifts. You can imagine the hours of earnest diplomatic debate before the right gift, conveying the appropriate sentiments and symbolism, is selected. But even then things can go wrong.
News has reached me that the young oak tree that President Macron gave Trump on his visit to Washington last year has died. Coming from Belleau Wood in northern France where two thousand American soldiers died in June 1918, it was planted with all due ceremony, the two leaders deploying golden shovels for the purpose.
The tree, though, was soon uprooted, falling foul of regulations that all living things imported into the USA need to go into quarantine. And there, according to diplomatic sources, it died. Hélas.
You would have thought that with all the planning that allegedly goes into these state visits, someone would have had the wit to put the tree through quarantine before the ceremony. But perhaps there is a deeper symbolism here, reflecting the worsening relationship between the two countries and what can happen to you if you get into the hands of the US authorities.
Later in the week it was announced that Macron would send another one.