Britain rolled out the royal red carpet for Donald Trump on Monday but the pomp, pageantry and banquet with Queen Elizabeth looked set to be overshadowed by the U.S. President’s views on Brexit, the UK’s next leader and a row over China’s Huawei.
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 sees him feted with the full force of royal ceremony: a formal dinner with the queen, tea with heir Prince Charles, and a tour of Westminster Abbey, coronation church of English monarchs for 1,000 years.
“I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit,” Trump wrote on Twitter as he landed at London’s Stansted Airport.
But beyond the theatre, the proudly unpredictable 45th U.S. president is rocking the boat with the United States’ closest ally, whose political establishment has been in chaos for months over Britain’s departure from the European Union.
As he was flying into the British capital, he reignited a feud with London Mayor Sadiq Khan - who had written on Sunday that Britain should not be rolling out the red carpet for the U.S. president - describing him as a “stone cold loser.
The state visit, promised by Prime Minister Theresa May back in January 2017 when she became the first foreign leader to meet him after he took office, is cast as a chance to celebrate Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States, boost trade links and reaffirm security cooperation.
At Buckingham Palace, Melania, stood beside Elizabeth and Charles’s wife Camilla, while Charles and Trump inspected the guard.
Trump will have lunch with the queen before the monarch’s second son Prince Andrew accompanies him to Westminster Abbey where the president will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
The day culminates with a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace - where men wear white tie coats with tails and women evening gowns.
But away from the pageantry, Trump is set to make his trip the most unconventional state visit in recent British history.