Even by Donald Trump‘s standards, coming for Meghan Markle in the days before a royal-family-heavy state visit to the U.K. is brash. Of course, that’s exactly what the president did before taking off for London on Sunday, upon learning that Markle had once described him as “divisive” and “misogynistic.”
“I didn’t know she was that nasty,” Trump responded on Friday, in an interview published by the Sun.
Suffice to say, the comment did not go over well. Trump seemed to realize as much; despite the existence of audio proving otherwise, he tweeted a denial of ever making the comment shortly before taking off for London, the very next day. But with three days’ worth of a total of nine events with the royals, there’s been no avoiding it—a fact Trump came to terms with on Wednesday, when he attempted to clarify his comments during an appearance on Good Morning Britain with his pal Piers Morgan.
Unfortunately for Trump, not even Morgan could save him from himself. Eventually, after discussing everything from his feelings about the late John McCain (“not a fan”) and climate change (“I think it changes both ways,”) the pair came to the topic of “this Meghan Markle business,” as Morgan put it, before asking Trump whether he thinks she’s nasty or not. “No,” Trump replied immediately.
But, of course, he didn’t stop there. “You know, the question was asked of me, and I didn’t know that she said anything bad about me. It sounds like she did, and that’s okay—I mean, hey, join the crowd,” Trump continued, attempting to bond with Morgan, a fellow controversial reality TV alumnus, about their many haters. “They said some of the things that she said and it’s actually on tape. And I said: ‘Wow, I didn’t know she was nasty.’ I wasn’t referring to she‘s nasty. I said she was nasty about me. And essentially I didn’t know she was nasty about me.”
It might not have helped with his clarity, but being in the U.K. does seem to have made a slight improvement on Trump’s manners. He then cut himself mid-sentence to dole out some praise: “So I said—but, you know what? She’s doing a good job. I hope she enjoys her life.”
If it sounds like he has no expectations of ever meeting Markle, well, for the moment, that does seem to be the case: The Duchess is currently on maternity leave, and has thus been reprieved of any Trump-related duties. Still, he wasn’t finished with discussing her just yet, though his final defense (unintentionally?) made it sound like Trump has learned his place: “She was nasty to me. And that’s okay for her to be nasty. It’s not good for me to be nasty to her and I wasn’t.”
Trump did get the chance to bring up “this Meghan Markle business” with her husband, Prince Harry, but they appear to have gotten along so swimmingly that he ended up keeping his mouth shut about it. “He’s a terrific guy,” Trump told Morgan of Harry, who apparently “spent a lot of time talking to Ivanka.” (About what, he did not specify.)
In fact, Trump continued, “the royal family is really nice”—a change from the usual tone he adopts on the topic of Kate Middleton and the rest. (Evidently, he also passed on the chance to apologize to Middleton for that time he said she had “only herself to blame” when photos of her sunbathing nude, in private, appeared in the press.)
When it comes to the nonroyals running Britain, though, that tone has yet to change. Just ask London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who Trump tweeted was a “stone cold loser” shortly before landing in the city on Monday.