If someone is a sovereign leader (king or queen, president, chancellor, etc.) they'll do most of their work in their nation's capital, palace, or wherever the seat of power happens to be. Sometimes, however, there are issues and responsibilities that require them to fire up the Official Presidential Transport, leave the capital and go out into the country or into other countries to fulfill them. This is the State Visit, when the leader of a country visits other places for official purposes.
Strictly speaking, a state visit is only when the leader of a country visits another nation, but for our purposes, we're going to use it to refer to when national leaders visit anywhere. Plot-wise they offer a variety of story possibilities and can be used in different ways, as the main plot, a framing device for different stories or as the catalyst for other plot points.
If used as the main plot, the visit can be shown from either of two perspectives, though it's possible that the event will be shown from both:
The first is from the view of the government, either the leadership itself, or those in lower positions who are responsible in some way for the visit and what its goal is. Characters here are likely to be discussing larger picture topics, like how this visit might benefit an electoral race, or boosting support for some issue. Security is likely to be coordinating with the local authorities, and travel arrangements will have to be made. The leader in question is also likely to engage in various efforts to connect with their constituents such as kissing babies, a Photo Op with the Dog, shaking hands, and meeting with citizens and local leaders.
If the visit is to another country, there is the meeting of the heads of state themselves. When the leader of another country comes to visit, it is only proper that the leader of your country act as host. The two will be able to engage in personal talks, negotiate face-to-face, or simply discuss their plans for their nations. A common reason for such meetings is the signing of treaties; though these do not always require a national leader's signature, they often will personally sign them if there is a statement they wish to make in doing so.
The other side is the local level, either city and/or county officials or members of the local populace. This is bound to be an exciting time for them, but also has the potential for a lot of headaches, especially in smaller towns that may not be used to crowds that events like this are bound to draw. If the local government is the focus, their concerns are more likely to be in the details and practical matters. Police will be cordoning off routes, emergency services on standby, photoshoots and meet-and-greets arranged, and food ordered. For the general population it's most likely a time for excitement similar to a major sports event, with cheering and banners waving. For those in support, anyway. For the leader's opponents, it's a good time for some demonstrations, activism, maybe even protests.
If the visit is used as a framing device, the local level is also where those stories are most likely to take place, perhaps following citizens as their lives are disrupted, for better or worse, by the visit and its effects.
As a catalyst, the visit itself will often have the least screen time, perhaps only being mentioned, but here is where it will often have the most profound effects on events. The purpose of these visits, after all, is to effect change, or drum up/show support for various issues, and that can have long-lasting effects on the world, both ones they were aiming for, and other unintended consequences. Quite often these events will be targeted by enemy agents, terrorists, criminals, and any number of low-lifes. Different types of crises may also emerge, which will necessitate the suspension of events to deal with them. If none of these happen, and the event proceeds as planned, the conflict will likely revolve around differing political views.
Compare with The Inspector Is Coming for situations where an important figure's arrival causes people to properly prepare beforehand.
- Doctor Doom routinely ventures into New York to engage the Fantastic Four in mortal combat. Doom is also the ruler of the Balkan nation of Latveria, and because he is a head of state, the Four are allowed to thwart Doom, but never slay him. It is an act of war to attack a foreign monarch; only Doom's own countrymen can dispose of him via a coup d'etat.
- In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, Lord Vetinari uses State Visits as undeclared weapons. Any foreign Head of State invited to Ankh-Morpork is shown every hospitality, and every courtesy. The Price of Flight sees Prince Heinrich of Zlobenia making an official visit just after a difficult international situation is resolved. Given place of honour at a march-past of selected Ankh-Morporkian military units, he cannot help but notice that a signiciant part of the strength of the Air Watch is made up of Rodinian Zlobenians. He even gets to award the highest Zlobenian medal to its commanding officer. Face to face, he gets the sinking realisation that this woman, currently in Vetinari's service, could well overthrow him as ruler. Which is the exact point Vetinari wants to make. Meanwhile, Rodinian nationalists who are making up a large and noisy part of the street crowd get to see their potential leader forced to bow the head to the despised Heinrich. Which is the other point Vetinari wants to make.
- The President and First Lady of Ferelden occasionally visit the eponymous school in Skyhold Academy Yearbook. It's almost always treated with an incredible amount of importance (as Krem puts it in the first story, "it's all official outside"), which they frankly wish it wouldn't be since the school is so important to them personally.
- The Swan Princess has King William routinely visit Queen Uberta's nation, as both monarchs are eager to see William's daughter Odette become betrothed to Uberta's son Derek. At first, when the two heirs are children, they take a dislike to each other. Subsequent visits melt the ice, until Derek acts as the valiant hero to rescue Damsel in Distress Odette from the clutches of the Evil Sorceror Rothbart.
- Thirteen Days: As the Cuban Missile Crisis occurs during the runup to the 1962 midterm elections, President Kennedy is scheduled to make a number of appearances around the country. Since they're trying to keep a lid on the situation until they have a response ready, they hold to the schedule, which leads to conflicts with Jack, who wants to stay in Washington to monitor the situation.
- Done twice in King Ralph; the first time, the visit from the King of Zambezi goes well, with the two going to a pub and playing darts (during the rematch, they play using spears), but the second time, a more formal state visit from the Finnish royal family is a disaster, especially after Ralph plays "Good Golly, Miss Molly" on a harpsichord.
- Coming to America has the Zamundan King Jaffe Joffer coming to New York City to look for his son Akeem, who is posing as a poor African college student there. True to this trope, King Jaffe is accompanied by much fanfare, and even travels around in a heavily guarded convoy complete with limousine.
- Downton Abbey: The Crawleys and their staff are busy preparing for the King, Queen, and the royal household to visit their country house of Downton Abbey.
- Return of the Jedi: Emperor Palpatine travels to the Death Star II's construction site, officially to personally oversee the final stages of construction. The visit is secretly part of a Batman Gambit to lure the Rebel Alliance to attack and try to kill him along with the Death Star, so that he can wipe them out with its Wave-Motion Gun and drive Luke Skywalker to fall to the dark side via the Despair Event Horizon in the bargain.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: In the aftermath of the Praxis explosion, the Federation extends an invitation to the chancellor of the Klingon Empire to come to Earth to initiate negotiations that would result in the end of the Space Cold War that has existed between them for years. The Enterprise is sent to escort them, but before they arrive, the chancellor's ship is attacked, seemingly by the Enterprise and then he is assassinated by two Starfleet crewmen, nearly derailing the peace process.
- The Interpreter: The film is set against an impending visit by the president of the African nation of Matobo to the United Nations, and the attempt to unravel an assassination plot against him before he arrives.
- Air Force One begins with President Marshall in Moscow commemorating a joint US-Russian operation that captured Khazakstan dictator General Radek. This sets the stage for Radek's followers to hijack Air Force One in an attempt to secure his release.
- Honor Harrington:
- As the war with Haven enters a new phase with the deployment of the Manticoran Alliance's new SD(P)s, Queen Elizabeth III makes an offer to Protector Benjamin of Grayson to come and visit his world as the most important Alliance member short of Manticore itself, and given that Grayson is closer to the front lines than Manticore, it would give both heads of state a more current view of the campaigns missions. The visit comes right on the heels of a major coup attempt in Haven and, confident that victory is right around the corner, they decide to take a voyage around the Grayson system. While they're out, Haven sponsored insurgents make an attempt on both the Queen and the Protector. Honor manages to save the Protector's yacht, which also had Elizabeth aboard, but the royal yacht, with the prime minister and most of his government on it, is destroyed.
- Later, in A Rising Thunder, Queen Elizabeth finds herself hosting three state visits on little or no notice. First President Eloise Pritchart shows up without notice, followed by Chyang Benton-Ramirez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Beowulf Planetary Board of Directors showing up with minimal notice as merely "the special envoy from Beowulf," and then Benjamin Mayhew, Protector of Grayson arriving with Queen Elizabeth snarking that the Graysons had given a whole day's notice before his arrival.
- A Song of Ice and Fire begins as King Robert travels to the North with his entourage to offer the position of Hand of the King to Eddard Stark, Warden of the North and his most trusted friend. The Starks give them a royal welcome at the gate of Winterfell and hold a feast in their honor.
- In the Milly, Molly book "The Queen's Visit", Queen Elizabeth II goes to visit the unnamed Australian townnote the protagonists live in. Miss Blythe's class hurriedly clean up the entire town.
- In Jingo Lord Vetinari uses State Visits as weapons. Any foreign Head of State invited to Ankh-Morpork is shown every hospitality, and every courtesy. Prince Khufurah, ruler of Klatch, remarks that being subjected to a State Banquet at Unseen University is a fearsome device to render guests comatose and sleepy enough, or else in desperate need of an indigestion remedy, to agree to and sign just about anything.
- The Patrician doesn't seem to go on state visits himself, with the city's representative in such matters being the Duke of Ankh, as seen in The Fifth Elephant and Monstrous Regiment. Which, given that the Duke of Ankh is Sam Vimes, a born policeman who believes there's always a crime somewhere, is also a weapon.
- King Verence II of Lancre is fond of the local version, which is not that hard since his kingdom is small enough to walk round. He has a habit of doing so without previous announcement, since he thinks it makes him more approachable. The Lancrastrians think there is nothing more disconcerting than the king showing up unexpectedly and asking how long you've been a roofer.
- The Crown (2016):
- All Elizabeth II's official foreign visits are state visits due to the fact that she is the head of state. One notable episode shows her dancing with the Prime Minister of Ghana. In the earliest episodes, as Princess Elizabeth, she is seen subbing for her ill father on a state visit to Kenya.
- Elizabeth also welcomes foreign dignitaries to state functions at Buckingham Palace, including one episode that centers around a visit from President Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline.
- Babylon 5:
- "Survivors" centers around an impending visit by the Earth Alliance president, who will be presenting a new fighter wing to the station. In the process of getting the fighter bays for the new wing ready, an accident occurs, and the president's head of security, Major Leanna Kemmer, arrives to investigate it personally. She soon uncovers a sabotage plot which she pins on station chief of security Michael Garibaldi, but due to bad blood between her and Michael, it soon becomes a personal witch hunt.
- "The Coming of Shadows": The emperor of the Centauri Republic makes a state visit to Babylon 5 for an important speech, but his health takes a turn for the worse before he can deliver it. It also thwarts G'Kar's intention to kill him in retaliation for the years of Centauri oppression of the Narn.
- The M*A*S*H Season 4 episode "The Late Captain Pierce" shows the effects of this trope from the semi-civilian side. Captain Pierce can't get so much as a telegram to his father due to Eisenhower's visit to Korea requiring ironclad security.
Captain Pierce: "What's he coming over here for, anyway? Who needs a president with dysentery?"
- Yes, Minister: "A Diplomatic Incident" involves Jim Hacker's predecessor as Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dying. Thus Jim happily arranges a state funeral for him, specifically to give a cover for him to forge multiple diplomatic agreements with the visiting officials and dignitaries. However, problems emerge with the visiting French President who plans to stage an international incident by giving the Queen a gift he knows will be rejected (namely a puppy thus breaching the UK's quarantine laws) thus humiliating them and giving the French the advantage in the upcoming channel tunnel negotiations. Jim is only saved by the French getting too arrogant and also trying to humiliate him for rejecting their offer to have French policemen guard the embassy (Jim declining on the grounds that other nations would want the same privilege, and many would insist on carrying guns) by staging a bomb plot which intelligence manages to uncover linking back to them.
- Pan Am: The episode "Ich bin ein Berliner" is framed around President Kennedy's visit to Berlin to give the eponymous speech. Maggie, a huge fan of JFK, is especially excited and keeps trying to find a way to actually meet him .
- The Golden Girls had the two-part Clip Show episode "The President's Coming! The President's Coming!" where the girls prepare for a visit from President George H. W. Bush during his Miami tour. Everybody gets excited except Dorothy, who is critical of Bush's policies. We only get to see Bush's Secret Service agents and hear his voice (impersonated by Harry Shearer), but he's charismatic enough that Dorothy is too starstruck to call him out.
- Happened frequently on The West Wing since it is a show about the White House, though there were some notable ones:
- "Hartsfield's Landing" starts with the Bartlet returning from a state visit to India before being thrust into a crisis involving China and Taiwan.
- The major plot of "In The Room" involves Bartlet having an MS episode while aboard Air Force One on his way to China for an important summit, which leaves him partially paralyzed. As C.J. and the staff discuss aborting the trip and going home, Bartlet insists the trip continue.
Bartlet: This plane is going to China! That is a direct order from your Commander-in-Chief!
- In Tropico, the Presidente can receive a visit from The Pope, greatly enhancing his appeal to the religious faction.
- Crusader Kings II:
- The Way of Life DLC permits rulers using the Business focus to lead a state visit to another capital to set up a trade relationship.
- The Jade Dragon expansion allows rulers within diplomacy range of China to make a state visit to kowtow to the Emperor.
- The Holy Fury expansion has an event where a pagan ruler neighboring one with an organized religion asks for their neighbor's help converting to their religion. You can later make a state visit to their capital to see how things are going.
- Dragon Age:
- In Act 3 of Dragon Age II, Hawke gets suddenly invited to the Viscount's Keep, and it turns out that Kirkwall is receiving a state visit by King Alistair of the neighboring Ferelden (though this only occurs if you made certain choices in Dragon Age: Origins). The king figures that Hawke, being both a Fereldan refugee and a Kirkwall noble, will be most receptive to his warnings regarding the mounting abuses of power by the Templar Order in Kirkwall.
- The now-defunct browser game The Last Court had the player take on the role of the Marquis of Serault and manage their court in preparation for a visit from Divine Justinia. The ultimate goal was to impress her during a feast with all the secrets, trophies, and viands accumulated during the game in order to earn enough favors to re-establish Serault's dignity.
- One of the quests in Fallout: New Vegas has the NCR president, Aaron Kimbal, make an official visit to Hoover Dam in order to improve morale among his troops. Depending on which faction you decide to support, you need to either save him from an assassination attempt or assassinate him yourself.
- Final Fantasy VII has Rufus Shinra going to Junon for his inauguration, the festivities of which gives the party a chance to slip through.
- Long Live the Queen: As Crown Princess and soon-to-be Queen, Elodie spends most of game at her castle. In Week 28, however, she's invited to go to the duchy of Sudbury to visit her schoolmate Gwenelle, who's throwing a birthday party to celebrate her coming-of-age and becoming a Duchess. While not officially business, it's considered a major social event that all nobles are expected to attend, and a major snub from Elodie if she decides to skip the party (unless she has the etiquette to properly apologize to Gwenelle). If Elodie does go, she'll find herself having to deal with several issues, including a classmate who plans to run away and go on a dangerous adventure, and possibly even a noblewoman planning to declare civil war the very next week. That assumes Elodie even makes it to the party: Unless certain conditions are met, her carriage will be attacked by bandits en route, which may get her killed. If the player chooses to stay home to avoid that, not only does Elodie miss out on her only chance to negotiate with the nobles, but Sudbury will be among the rebels in the civil war.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2, this, plus an assassination plot, is the premise of the first case. The president in question is Di-Jun Huang, president of Fictional Country Zheng Fa.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In "Swarm of the Century", Princess Celestia is planning to visit Ponyville, and the Mane Six, along with the rest of the town, are preparing for the event. Fluttershy going to collect flowers is what kicks off the plot, as she winds up bringing a Parasprite with her. By the end of the episode, the Parasprite infestation has destroyed the town, and Celestia arrives to see Pinkie leading a "parade" of the creatures back into the forest- causing her to assume it was a parade in her honor. Luckily, the infestation also occurred in Phillydelphia, forcing her to postpone the visit anyway
- In "Triple Threat", the leader of the dragons, Ember, visits Ponyville, with many preparations being made to welcome her.
- The Fairly OddParents: In the episode "Vicky Loses Her Icky", the President of the United States came to visit Dimmsdale, carrying with him a button that controls weapons of mass destruction. Vicky's evil bug—don't ask—wants it, thus Timmy must stop it from biting the president's butt and turning him evil. His mannerism resembles that of George W. Bush but his appearance is that of George Washington. At the end of the episode, he has a completely new look of Abraham Lincoln.