Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May invited American President Donald Trump on a state visit to the United Kingdom to further a post-Brexit trade deal between the two nations. In a joint news conference, President Trump lauded the US-UK relationship as the "greatest alliance the world has ever known". This is only the third state visit by a US leader to the UK.
The week-long visit is mostly ceremonial, including 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.
At Monday morning’s arrival, the Trumps were greeted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at Buckingham Palace. They chatted with members of the Guard of Honor as the rest of the American delegation, from a terrace, observed the elaborate arrival ceremony, complete with the playing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’. Royal gun salutes were fired from nearby Green Park and from the Tower of London. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had a private lunch with the Queen followed by inspection of a collection of artifacts and a wreath-laying at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. That evening, President Trump was honored at an extravagant state dinner hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Conservative party leadership candidate and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had a "friendly and productive" 20-minute phone call with the President. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage was believed to have had a private meeting with President Trump after he was seen at Winfield House, where the President stayed.
Despite leading an anti-Trump rally, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn had requested a meeting with the President, which was declined. President Trump said, "He wanted to meet today or tomorrow and I decided I would not do that. I think he is from where I come from somewhat of a negative force. I think the people should look to do things correctly as opposed to criticize - I really don't like critics as much as I like and respect people who get things done - so I decided not to meet."
Despite the friendly reception given by the monarch and her family, the mainstream news media chose to elevate undiplomatic comments from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan that ignore the national interests of the country and reason for President Trump’s invitation. Mayor Khan wrote a column titled “It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump” calling the President a "global threat," listing the President’s most controversial policies, and likening them to the actions of European dictators of the 1930s and 1940s.
Given that one of the primary reasons for the timing of President Trump’s visit was to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in line with the role played by the United States in the liberation of the continent from the tyranny of Nazism and Communism, Mayor Khan’s comparison of the President with a “20th century fascist” was offensive and an insult to the memory of the thousands of Americans and Europeans who died fighting actual fascism.
President Trump, as any democratically elected leader, was deserving of a welcome befitting the status of his office and his great country, as PM May also represents. Ahead of President Trump's arrival, Mayor Khan posted additional comments on Twitter, including "I think there are many, many racists who think he's their poster boy" and claiming racist groups across the world "have been normalised and mainstreamed because of Donald Trump".
In an address filmed by ELLE UK, the Mayor of London addressed President Trump directly, publicly denouncing everything that the President stands for in what the magazine called a “heartfelt call to arms”. In the video, Mayor Khan said, “President Trump, if you're watching this, your values and what you stand for are the complete opposite of London's values and the values in this country.”
In response, President Trump tweeted, "@SadiqKhan, 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. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.......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!”