Right at the start of his three-day state visit to the United Kingdom, U.S. President Donald Trump caused disgruntlement. He mocked London Mayor Sadiq Khan on the short messaging service Twitter as a "complete failure".
Khan, who by all accounts had done a terribly poor job as mayor of London, had been "mean" to him, Trump tweeted. Khan reminded him of the "very stupid and incompetent" mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio – but the London mayor was "only half as great".
In the process, Trump misspelled the name of the Labour politician with Pakistani roots as "Kahn" instead of "Khan". Khan and the U.S. president had already engaged in verbal skirmishes beforehand. On Sunday, the mayor had compared Trump’s language to that of "20th century fascists. Century" compared. Democrat de Blasio is also an avowed Trump critic. The New York mayor countered with a tweet of his own, calling Trump the "twin" of Russian President Vladimir Putin – "only his presidency will be shorter".
Shortly before that, Trump had already violated diplomatic customs by recommending British ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as a successor to outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May.
The 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II. did not let on at the reception of the U.S. President and First Lady Melania at Buckingham Palace. The presidential couple refrained from bowing or curtsying, which is not obligatory when greeting the queen. Melania wore a white dress with dark belt and collar and a hat. The reception was accompanied by the cannonade of gun salutes.
Before a joint lunch, Trump and Melania were received in the palace garden with military honors. The U.S. President and the heir to the throne Prince Charles walked down the rows of guardsmen and talked with some of the men in the typical red uniform and bearskin caps. At times, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner could be seen in the upper windows of the palace. In the afternoon, the presidential couple visited Westminster Abbey in London. A state banquet at Buckingham Palace was planned for the evening.
Unlike a normal working visit, a state visit is celebrated with all the pomp of royalty. Normally, the military parade is held at Horse Guards Parade, the state guest arrives by carriage with the Queen from Buckingham Palace via "The Mall" boulevard. But for Trump, the entire ceremony was moved behind the walls of the palace.
Tourists outside the palace could not catch a glimpse of the president and the queen. Most people didn’t know about his visit anyway and were surprised when he flew in by helicopter.
The visit is highly controversial. Massive protests are expected on Tuesday, with 250,000 people reportedly expected to attend. Millions of Britons signed a petition to stop the state visit. Before Trump, only two U.S. presidents received such a reception in London: George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka tweeted she’s excited to be in the U.K. It was initially unclear whether other Trump children were traveling with him. Media had reported the U.S. president was planning to bring his four adult children with him.
On Tuesday, Trump will meet with Gov. May, who is about to leave office. The focus is on economic cooperation between the two countries after Britain leaves the EU.
On Wednesday, Trump and Melania plan to attend celebrations in Portsmouth on the south coast of England to mark 75. Participate in the anniversary of the so-called D-Day. Another commemoration of the actual anniversary on Thursday (6. June) is planned in France. That’s where the Trumps plan to head later. On 6. June 1944, Allied troops had landed on the beaches of Normandy in German-occupied France during World War II.
In between, Trump still plans a side trip to Ireland, where he will meet with Irish leader Leo Varadkar and play golf.