Americas

Donald Trump is returning to the UK – this is what happened during his last visits

Donald Trump arrives in London tonight for two days of meetings with NATO leaders ahead of a summit.

It is his third trip to the UK as president – after two trips that were highly controversial and resulted in widespread protests.

As he arrives, during the closing stages of one of the most polarised general elections in decades, there are concerns his presence in Britain could again spark anger.

Much attention will be paid to whether he goes against the advice of his White House officials and wades into the election campaign, having previously shown support for Brexit, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

In case his past visits could serve as an indicator for what is to come, here is a reminder of what happened before:

July 2018

Mr Trump’s first trip to the UK as president was said to be a working visit.

Immediately as he arrived in the UK he was met with protests.

Such had been the concerns about what would happen that Mr Trump was kept largely away from London and, instead, was hosted at a reception at Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace.

But, while he was eating Herefordshire beef and Scottish smoked salmon at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, groups of placard wavers set up at the US ambassador’s residence and at the palace’s gates.

Before he even arrived in the UK, Labour’s Dennis Skinner branded the president a “fascist” in the House of Commons.

The next day, ahead of his taking tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle, two large demonstrations began to wind their way around the capital.

One was a march by women who aimed to form a “wall of noise” by staging a “carnival of resistance”.

Organisers of the other protest claimed more than 250,000 people took to the streets, weeks after more than 1.8 million signed a petition against the visit.

Security around London was estimated to have cost the UK taxpayer more than £12m.

The following day an estimated 100,000 returned to central London to pack Trafalgar Square, after heading down Regent Street.

Police avoided a flashpoint when a rival pro-Trump march by supporters of Tommy Robinson was kept to Whitehall.

A notable feature of the demonstrations was the “Trump baby”, a six-metre balloon depicting the president as a nappy-clad orange infant.

The president later flew on to Scotland, where he planned to play golf at his Turnberry resort, but was again followed by demonstrations.

A motorised paraglider flew over where he was playing with a banner message saying “Trump Well Below Par” and thousands more gathered in Edinburgh.

Mr Trump shrugged it all off, claiming there were “many, many protests in my favour”, but the diplomatic fallout was difficult to gauge, especially as his relationship with then PM Theresa May suffered a blow.

As the plates were being cleared at the end of the dinner in Blenheim, The Sun published an interview it had carried out earlier in which it said the president claimed Mrs May had “wrecked Brexit”.

Afterwards, as he drove to the airport in a 30-car motorcade, a Washington Post opinion column said the backlash of the visit would be felt for years to come.

June 2019

Mr Trump’s second trip was a full-blown state visit and had been expected to feature the usual ceremony that comes with the arrival of a head of state in the UK.

But a carriage procession down The Mall was cancelled amid fears it was too much of a security risk.

Mr Trump was also not afforded the chance to address both houses of parliament due to opposition from the then Speaker John Bercow.

Instead, his official welcome took place in the garden of Buckingham Palace – an event avoided by Trump critic the Duchess of Sussex, as she was apparently on maternity leave.

A huge police presence looked on as his lengthy motorcade snaked around Westminster.

Things had started badly even before the trip got under way when he called London mayor Sadiq Khan a “stone cold loser“, crossing a diplomatic line before he’d even stepped off the plane.

At his first news conference he suggested the NHS may be up for grabs in a trade deal and discussed successors to Mrs May as she stood next to him.

The confusing messages continued – he seemed unsure about exactly who Jeremy Corbyn was and, in Ireland, he appeared to think Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar wanted a wall along the border with Northern Ireland.

The security fears were substantiated as the demonstrations got under way.

Banners went up across central London – on bridges, on walls, and carried by thousands of protesters.

Senior politicians from across the left, including opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, took to a stage to denounce his visit.

The Trump Baby made a reappearance, along with a talking ‘robot’, paid for by a US businessman, of Mr Trump sitting on a toilet, making flatulence noises.

The demonstrations continued for several days.

But, from a royal point of view, the three days of events went largely without a hitch.

His state banquet at Buckingham Palace was widely cited as a success, apart from his once putting his hand on the Queen’s back.

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