LONDON • Britain rolled out the red carpet for US President Donald Trump yesterday, but the pomp, pageantry and banquet with Queen Elizabeth II looked set to be overshadowed by the President’s views on Brexit, the UK’s next leader and a row over China’s Huawei.
Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, were greeted by the 93-year-old monarch at Buckingham Palace at the start of a three-day state visit which will see him feted with the full force of royal ceremony: a formal dinner with the queen, tea with her heir, Prince Charles, and a tour of Westminster Abbey, the coronation church of English monarchs for 1,000 years.
There was also an 82-gun salute – 41 shots to honour the US President and 41 to mark the anniversary on Sunday of the queen’s coronation, which took place in 1953. Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, also greeted Mr Trump and his wife.
Queen Elizabeth received Mr Trump on the west terrace of Buckingham Palace, before ushering him inside. The President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, along with other White House aides, looked on from a balcony throughout the short but elaborate welcome ceremony.
Mr Trump and his wife were then escorted by the royal family to a courtyard where Prince Charles accompanied Mr Trump on an inspection of the guard.
Mrs Trump wore an elegant, white Dolce & Gabbana dress with navy blue collar and belt and a custom-made hat by Herve Pierre.
They later had lunch with the queen and were shown around a collection of items with significance for US relations before a tour of Westminster Abbey.
Number of shots fired in the gun salute, 41 to honour the US President and 41 to mark the anniversary on Sunday of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, which took place in 1953.
Mr Trump was also scheduled to have tea with Prince Charles and Camilla. Prince Harry was also expected to join them for a private lunch, according to the BBC, and Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, were slated to attend the state banquet yesterday evening.
The BBC also reported that Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex – who is on maternity leave after giving birth to the couple’s first child last month – would not be attending the dinner.
Moments before his flight landed, Mr Trump took aim at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling him a “stone cold loser” in a series of Twitter posts.
Mr Trump has feuded with the mayor before. When large protests greeted the US President in London during a visit last year, Mr Khan allowed demonstrators to fly a giant orange balloon of Mr Trump depicted as a baby in diapers.
The blimp’s creator told news outlets on Sunday that the mayor had granted permission for the balloon to fly again during Mr Trump’s visit.
While Mr Trump’s visit is a high-profile engagement full of important meetings about diplomatic and trade issues, the morning of his first day in Britain was punctuated with various Twitter posts.
He went from attacking Mr Khan to commenting on the trade war with China, and then he tweeted criticism of CNN.
After his events yesterday, which included a wreath-laying ceremony at Westminster Abbey, he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Theresa May today at her London residence and hold a joint news conference. Mrs May is set to step down later this week.
Mr Trump is scheduled to travel to the southern city of Portsmouth for a D-Day commemoration tomorrow, and then fly to Ireland, where he will meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
Yesterday, thousands of people stood and stared at the palace gates as a light breeze moved the US and British flags that decorated the grounds in honour of Mr Trump’s visit, although not everyone was there for a glimpse of the US leader.
With polls saying that more than half of Londoners are opposed to Mr Trump’s visit, tens of thousands are expected to demonstrate against him in the British capital today.
Protesters have vowed to bring central London to a standstill during the rally today, prompting the city’s police force to prepare what it called “a multifaceted security operation”. Smaller demonstrations were also expected in other cities across Britain.
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