Trump accepted Prime Minister May's invitation to visit Britain this year, where he would be hosted by the Queen

By Sara Nathan
Updated January 31, 2017 11:52 AM
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President Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain has put the Queen in a “very difficult position,” the former head of the U.K. Foreign Office claims.

Lord Peter Ricketts says the visit, announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May while meeting President Trump in Washington on Friday, should be downgraded from a state visit to spare Her Majesty any controversy.

As a UK petition to stop President Trump’s planned visit to Britain reached more than 1.5 million signatures and thousands protested across Britain on Monday, Lord Ricketts, in a letter to the The Times of London, said the invitation so early in Trump’s presidency was “premature.” He also added May must “move fast” to protect the Queen from more controversy.

Lord Ricketts said that it is unprecedented for U.S. presidents to be given a state visit in their first year of office – and said he questioned whether Trump is “specially deserving of this exceptional honour.”

Adding, “It would have been far wiser to wait to see what sort of president he would turn out to be before advising the Queen to invite him. Now the Queen is put in a very difficult position.”

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty

Lord Ricketts spoke out following President Trump’s ban of refugees and citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries from the United States signed in an executive order hours after May’s visit.

The Times claimed that Buckingham Palace was privately unhappy about the perception the Queen was being dragged into a political event.

Regardless of the protests, May has insisted that the state visit will go ahead.

Lord Ricketts, 64, says that the decision to rush forward an invitation risks breaching the convention that while the Palace acts on ministers’ advice, the government stops the Queen from “getting drawn into political controversy.”

Conservative Muslim lawmaker Sayeeda Warsi told BBC radio that Britain should question whether it should roll out the red carpet for “a man who has no respect for women, disdain for minorities… and whose policies are rooted in divisive rhetoric,” according to the AFP.

On Monday, May told a press conference in Dublin that “the United States is a close ally of the U.K., we work together across many areas of mutual interest and we have that special relationship between us.”

Adding, “I have issued that invitation for a state visit to President Trump to the UK and that invitation stands.”

Along with the Queen, Prince Charles, along with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will take a prominent place in the visit. He normally meets the visiting head of state and brings them to Horse Guards Parade where there is the formal welcome by his mother the queen. Then, a lunch at Buckingham Palace typically follows.

The prince has made no secret of his belief that climate change is one of the key issues of our time. A royal source previously told PEOPLE that Charles will not be stopped from raising the issue with Trump, but he will do so when it’s “entirely appropriate to the situation.