So it wasn't necessarily an affectionate holding of hands after all.

It has emerged that British Prime Minister Theresa May was only photographed hand in hand with Donald Trump because, bizarre as it sounds, the President may have a fear of slopes and needed a soothing arm to negotiate a downhill stretch of path.

The image of the pair holding hands was beamed around the world, to the delight of supporters of the new US President but to the consternation of those - many of them in the UK - far less keen on Trump.

But government sources in Washington DC were suggesting that the hand-holding was not as a result of a deep and lasting friendship after all. An insider said Trump was known to have an aversion to slopes, and said it could have been the reason for his decision to grasp the Prime Minister's hand. Such a fear is a recognised condition called bathmophobia.

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As the pair walked along the White House colonnade, they encountered the top of a gentle slope. Trump then offered his hand to May, apparently anxious she should steady the nerves of the world's most powerful man.

The footage of Trump and May walking along the colonnade backs up the claim that the President made the first move. As the pair reach the top of the slope, the President stretches out his left arm and grasps May's right hand.

They then walk for about five steps before Trump slides his left arm across and pats the underside of May's hand, possibly grateful for her steadying presence.

- Telegraph Group Ltd