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In a time of so many would-have-been, could-have-been calendar appointments, this week should have seen an official White House state dinner. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had invited royalty to the White House: the King and Queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia.
February's public announcement, preceded already by several weeks of planning, had heralded a celebration of the relationship between the host and guest nations. But the White House pulled the plug after the onset of a devastating number of coronavirus cases in Spain by early March, including some inside Palace circles.
However, even if the state dinner had taken place as scheduled, it would only have been the third of the Trump administration, behind one held for Australia in September 2019, and one for France, in April 2018. Trump's two dinners is shy of several of his recent predecessors and is the least of any modern American president by this time.
At this exact point in their presidencies, Barack Obama had hosted six state dinners, George W. Bush four, and Bill Clinton 13. And while that might sound like a lot, comparatively, the trend of lavish, over-the-top affairs for foreign heads of state has diminished over time from their heyday under Jimmy Carter, signaling the decline of one of the White House's most extravagant traditions.
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