For Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s unflappable monarch, the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump, his family and his armoured entourage on Monday means a full day of ceremony and toasts topped by a magnificent banquet at Buckingham Palace.
READ MORE: Donald Trump calls Duchess of Sussex ‘nasty’ ahead of U.K. visit, calls Boris Johnson ‘excellent’
The Donald at the Palace! President Trump and Melania touch down to meet the Queen, Charles and Camilla and receive a 21-gun salute at Buckingham Palace as Britain rolls out the red carpet on state visit
There will be a formal tea Monday afternoon hosted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla for Trump and first lady Melania Trump, which brings together a future king who has warned about the perils of climate change for years with a president who is actively dismantling U.S. policies designed to slow global warming.
In the interview with The Sun, Trump weighed in on the American-born Duchess of Sussex. The former Meghan Markle, who gave birth to a son in May and will not attend the week's events, was critical of Trump in the past, prompting the president to tell the tabloid, "I didn't know that she was nasty." He said later in the interview that he thought Markle would be "very good" as a royal.
On the political front, Trump meets Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May only days before she steps down Friday as Conservative Party leader, kicking off a race to succeed her as prime minister.
Trump professes friendship for May, but he has been harshly critical of her handling of Britain’s tortured Brexit negotiations with the European Union. He has also buddied up to former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a May critic who hopes to follow her into power, and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage who accuses May of incompetence and betrayal.
Trump ramped up his interference in British politics by telling the Sunday Times that Britain should “walk away”from talks and refuse to pay a 39 billion pound ($49 billion) divorce bill if it doesn’t get better terms from the EU. He also said Farage should be given a role in the Brexit negotiations.
Officials on both sides of the Atlantic say the long-delayed state visit will celebrate the vaunted “special relationship” between Britain and the U.S. It was timed to coincide with solemn ceremonies in Britain on Wednesday and in France on Thursday marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
Still, the very topic of a Trump visit to Britain has been deeply divisive since May extended the invitation on behalf of the queen in an Oval Office visit in the first week of Trump’s administration. The move prompted street protests in Britain, an online petition signed by more than 1 million opposed to the idea, and a debate in Parliament over whether Trump deserved the highest honour that Britain can bestow on a foreign leader.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote in The Observer Sunday that Trump’s presidency is part of a sinister worldwide trend. He said Trump should not get red-carpet treatment during his visit.
READ MORE: ‘I still hope they’re happy’: Trump wishes royal couple well despite Meghan Markle criticism
“President Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” said Khan, a frequent Trump target. “The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than 70 years.”
Ever before Trump was elected president, there was a highly charged debate in Britain’s Parliament over whether to ban him from coming to the U.K. because of his harsh comments about temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States. His brief working visit to Britain last summer generated huge protests in the streets of London even as Trump stayed – literally — above the fray by relying on a helicopter to get around.
That July visit also marked the debut of the “Trump baby balloon,” an inflatable piece of conceptual art that depicts the president as a baby wearing diapers.
At the time, Labour Party lawmaker David Lammy tweeted that Trump was a “racist” who hates the fact that Londoners elected Khan as its first Muslim mayor. Lammy said Trump “does not deserve to meet our queen.”
Much of this visit will be given over to social events and to the D-Day commemorations, but some serious topics are to be discussed, including the Trump administration’s determined effort to prevent Britain from relying on Chinese tech giant Huawei to build parts of its 5G communications network.
National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters before Trump’s arrival that allowing this could give China’s government a “back door” into western telecommunications systems.
A state visit is a relatively rare honour for a U.S. president: Only Barack Obama in 2011 and George W. Bush in 2003 have received the coveted invitations, which are offered based on advice from British Foreign Office officials, not the whim of the queen.
Marine One landed on the lawn of Buckingham Palace and Prince Charles met him on the lawn as a Royal Salute of cannons was fired in neighbouring Green Park by The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery and further away at the Tower of London on the banks of the Thames.
She has, however, met 12 of the 13 U.S. presidents during her 67-year reign, which is now the longest in British history. The only exception was Lyndon Johnson.
Usually a horse-drawn carriage procession brings the visiting dignitary to the grounds of Buckingham Palace, escorted by mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry as gun salutes are fired from Green Park and the Tower of London. Officials have not said whether that will happen this time, possibly due to security concerns.
His visit will be met by large protests with hundreds of thousands of people set to hit the streets and Mayor Khan agreeing to let agitators fly two blimps lampooning Mr Trump: One showing his as a 20ft baby and the other as a robot in a gold toilet.
The president and first lady are not going to stay at Buckingham Palace, where state visitors usually lodge, apparently because of renovations underway at the queen’s 775-room official residence. They are expected to stay at Winfield House, the spacious home of the U.S. ambassador to Britain.
The Trumps and their grown children are expected to meet the younger generation of royals, including Prince William, a future king, and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. Prince Harry is also set to meet the Trumps, but his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is expected to stay at home with their newborn son Archie.
Meghan, an American former actress who has campaigned for increased women’s rights, was critical of Trump and backed his political rival Hillary Clinton before she married into Britain’s royal family. She has not resumed her official duties since giving birth four weeks ago.
LONDON — U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Britain on Monday for a largely ceremonial visit meant to strengthen ties between the two nations, but the trip was immediately at risk of being overshadowed by Brexit turmoil and a political feud with Londons mayor.
Even before Air Force One touched down north of London, Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade against London Mayor Sadiq Khan, leader of the world city where Trump will stay for two nights while partaking in a state visit full of pomp and circumstance.
The move came after a newspaper column in which Khan said Trump did not deserve red-carpet treatment in Britain and was "one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat" from the far-right to liberal democracy.
"@Khan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly "nasty" to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom," Trump wrote just before landing. "He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.
The president added that Kahn reminded of the "terrible" mayor of his hometown, New York City Mayor Bill de Blaiso though "only half his height." De Blaiso, a Democrat, is a longshot candidate in the 2020 presidential race. Khan supporters have previously accused Trump of being racist against Londons first Muslim mayor.
The president then added a few warm words for his hosts, tweeting that he was looking forward "to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit."
The Trumps then boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for the trip from Stansted Airport to the centre of Britains capital.
The agenda for Trumps weeklong journey is mostly ceremonial: a state visit and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in London, D-Day commemoration ceremonies on both sides of the English Channel and his first presidential visit to Ireland, which will include a stay at his coastal golf club.
But the U.S. president will arrive at a precarious moment, as he faces a fresh round of impeachment fervour back home and uncertainty on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. British Prime Minister Theresa May has faced months of political turmoil over Brexit and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to use the 75th anniversary of the World War II battle that turned the tide on the Western Front to call for strengthening the multinational ties the U.S. president has frayed.
A year ago, Trump also took aim at his hosts before landing on English soil, blasting May in an interview just hours she hosted him for dinner. Though he has spared May so far this time, he has praised her rival, prime ministerial hopeful Boris Johnson, just days before May steps down as Conservative leader on Friday for failing to secure a Brexit deal.
"I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent," Trump told The Sun. "I like him. I have always liked him. I dont know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person."
It was not clear if the Trump endorsement would hurt or help Johnsons chances of becoming Britains next leader.
He also told the Sunday Times that Britain should "walk away" from Brexit talks and refuse to pay a 39 billion pound ($49 billion) divorce bill if it doesnt get better terms from the European Union. He said he might meet with another pro-Brexit politician, Nigel Farage, and claimed Farage should be given a role in the Brexit negotiations.
After lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, Trump will be honoured at extravagant state dinner at Buckingham Palace. Demonstrators are expected, including the possible return of an inflatable balloon depicting the president as a baby.
He also referred to Meghan Markle, the duchess of Sussex and a granddaughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, as “nasty” in an interview with a British newspaper — a comment he denied making despite the existence of a clear audio recording.
And even some of the pageantry could have awkward moments. The formal tea hosted by Prince Charles brings together a future king who has warned repeatedly about the perils of climate change with a president who is actively dismantling U.S. policies designed to slow global warming.
In an interview with The Sun, Trump weighed in on the American-born Duchess of Sussex. The former Meghan Markle, who gave birth to a son in May and will not attend the weeks events, was critical of Trump in the past, prompting the president to tell the tabloid, "I didnt know that she was nasty."
Trump said later that he thought Markle would be "very good" as a royal and claimed that he only meant her comments were "nasty."
Trump will also make his first presidential visit to Ireland on Wednesday. Trump will spend two nights at his golf club in Doonbeg, which sits above the Atlantic. After Dublin balked at holding a meeting there, a deal was struck for Trump to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at Shannon Airport.
The centerpiece of the presidents visit will be two days to mark the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-Day anniversary, likely the last significant commemoration most veterans of the battle will see. The anniversary events will begin in Portsmouth, England, where the invasion was launched, and then move to Normandy, France, where Allied forces began to recapture Western Europe from the Nazis.
The day is normally a heartfelt tribute to unity and sacrifice, outweighing any national or political skirmish. But some on both sides of the Atlantic are nervous about Trump, who has shown a willingness to inject partisanship into such moments.
"My greatest hope is this: the president and all the leaders stay focused on the extraordinary heroism of that of D-Day and focusing on what brought allies to that position," said Heather Conley, senior vice-president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Dark clouds are forming once again in Europe, and rather than encourage those forces, we need to find much better tools to defeat them."
On his most recent European visit, last November in France, Trump was heavily criticized for skipping a ceremony at an American military cemetery to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I when rain grounded his helicopter. European leaders, meanwhile, stood in the rain to honour the dead.
….Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!